Eric and I have been thinking about what we will "do" for Lent. We enjoy seasons like Advent and Lent - we don't see them as empty rituals, but as "good excuses" to draw near to God, as a family. We were trying to think of something that would be meaningful for the kids to sacrifice, and how to connect that to loving our neighbor(s).
Nothing came to mind, and now I know why. Lent has come to us. Luke had some blood-work done and to our surprise, he is off-the-charts allergic to many things. He obviously doesn't react anaphylactic-ally (thank God) but he has several other symptoms that might be related. And so, with these extremely high numbers, we see no choice but to remove the offending foods.
So, for Lent this year (and beyond? who knows...) the entire McConnell household will stand in solidarity with Luke. None of us like it, but we all agree that he should not have to go this alone or watch any of us eat things he can no longer enjoy. So the pantry and fridge have been fully cleaned out and refurbished with acceptable replacements. We aren't even going to the Ash Wednesday service tonight. We'd love to (okay, fine, I'd love to!) but it's been a long day. Instead, we are about to have a little "service" here of our own... to talk about this more, pray, sing a song, read a scripture. Our hope is to do this as many evenings as possible, culminating with Easter.
So... Lent begins: starting today the entire family is giving up wheat, corn, soy, and peanuts - not because they have to, but because their brother has to. I call that dying to self for the love of the other.
And I can't think of a better way to live out the Lenten season.