Now, I have no idea where this post is going to go, so stick with me on this.
First of all, let me state for the record lest anyone get the wrong idea, I do not have a religious bone in my body. I once did, I guess, as a kid when I was little more than an offshoot of my parents’ belief system. At least I did until, when at the age of 13, I witnessed a church congregation become so enthralled that they engaged in what I would classify as the precursor to talking in tongues. Now whether the actual “tongue-talking” eventually occurred, I don’t know, because I ran out at the communal chanting and arm-waving stage. Religion saw the back of me then, and it’s still seeing it.
However, I would be lying if I said that there wasn’t a bit of a hole inside that still sits empty. That spiritual void that religion quite nicely fills for many but falls short for me.
This is not our “spiritual austerity” month, but I raise this topic now because I find it somehow fitting that we have chosen March of all months to be the one focused on dietary austerity. March is, after all, the month of Lent; the 40 days of fasting for Christians leading up to Easter, signifying a time of self-discipline and abstinence. And March is also the same month that the 2012 Farmer’s Almanac is recommending that the sowing of the fields begin. In March, after a cold, long winter we sow the austere fields so that in the Fall the harvest will yield plenty. Austerity as a path to plenty. Hmmm.
I can honestly say that no more thought went into this decision to have March as the month of dietary austerity than trying to answer the following burning question: “What can we pick to do this month that creates the least pain for the kids during the Spring Break?” It was clearly punishment enough that we weren’t winging our way south (we’ve beaten that one to a pulp). Surely we couldn’t take away Nick’s video games or Chloe’s reality TV as well (as we will do when we enter the month of entertainment austerity, whenever that might be).
OK. I am definitely no philosopher, as if you couldn’t tell. But the more I pay attention, the more I realize that things do happen for a reason. Decisions made on little more than a whim become very sensible in hindsight or, in some cases, can become life-changing. Life, if you really look, is full of coincidences. Little outcrops of spiritual communication that guide us, and connect us. I really do believe this.
So where does this leave me and my “God-shaped hole”? Well, I will keep my distance from organized religion for now. Probably forever. But I am committed to finding the key that fits this hole on my own. This year, I suppose, is part of that commitment; part of that path. Who knows? Maybe this decision of austerity will yield plenty in ways we can only begin to imagine.