The season of Lent is upon us -- a time to make sacrifices and to do a little soul searching about just what is really important in life.
The concept of sacrifice is one we learn at a young age, and which we revisit time and again as we grow older. It is the act of letting go -- of giving up something which we believe to be precious to us, in order to understand the true meaning of what is necessary to life and what is merely a comfort.
The first Lenten sacrifice I remember making is that of soda pop. I was about 5 or 6 years old, and was quite addicted to my soda pop. I remember thinking very highly of myself for being willing to give up something I drank every day. That was on Ash Wednesday. By Thursday, I remember I was already regretting my choice and thinking perhaps I didn't wish to be so highly thought of.
But I persevered, with the help of my mom and my grandmother, who offered liquid delights such as freshly made lemonade, hot teas (surprisingly enough, they don't do much iced tea up North, at least not back in the 60s), various juices and, of course, ice water.
I can still see the little calendar my mother kept on the refrigerator, counting down the days to Easter, until I could have a soda again.
But a surprising thing happened on the way to Easter Sunday. I began to lose my desire for soda. I actually found that I really enjoyed my grandmother's chamomile tea quite a bit, and juice with breakfast was getting to be pretty refreshing.
Following service on Easter Sunday, my family and I ventured home and, there in my Easter basket, was a chilled can of soda among the chocolate eggs, Peter Cottontail chocolate bunny and jelly beans. And you know what? I ate the bunny first.
It's amazing how we can go through life and hang on to material possessions and comforts, and know in our hearts that we couldn't possibly live without them. And yet, when we are tested, we find that, in fact, they were something we didn't really need at all.
I've experienced that myself, moving out to the Ozarks and building a cabin with my husband. I found that, although electricity at the flip of a switch is a marvel, it isn't really a necessity to live. And having hot water right out of the tap is nice, but you can get the same hot water by heating it up on the wood stove.
The most important things in our life are our Faith and our Family. Those two things are what get us through the everyday ups and downs, past the curve balls that life throws at us. In the end, those two things are all we really need.