As if to benchmark my thoughts on God's planning and unfolding Lent for us (as He does always, regardless), I've had some challenges placed before me in this first full week of Lent.
Monday I did drywall sanding, up high on ladder placed atop scaffolding in the stairwell. I wore a dust mask for the actual sanding part, but I did not when wiping down the walls of the residue dust. Then I shook out the cloth I was using, and I did not think much about the corduroy overalls or also the work shirt.
So by evening I was coughing. In the night I awoke with sinus problems and sore throat. By morning I was taking some over-the-counter sinus medication and knew I was down for the day. Concerns arose considering the difficulty getting to a doctor, as usually some antibiotics are necessary. I'd not be so concerned other than a daughter is flying here to help do some work projects over the weekend. What if I'd be too ill to even pick her up at airport? Too ill to work?
Of course, what popped into mind in response: It's LENT!
So the challenge is to let it all unfold, and to decide to go with God's flow. While I got a doctor appointment but was told they tend not to prescribe antibiotics anymore for sinus infections (FDA crackdown, more regulations!), yesterday another challenge arose.
When I picked up the cell phone to answer a call from the daughter, the top half just flipped back and flopped off! It is an old phone. Yet, I was not dismayed because, oddly enough, Saturday night last I'd had a lucid dream--yes, oddly enough--that my cell phone had fallen into pieces. It was such a strange dream to have, and rather extreme as in the dream the phone broke apart in small pieces. (I suspect had it been simply broken in half, like the reality, I'd not have remembered the dream upon waking. It seems the Holy Spirit often exaggerates in dreams for that very purpose: to take note in the conscious realm.)
Anyway, I smiled at my broken phone, realizing all the input numbers would not be retrievable, and said: It's LENT! With gratitude to the Holy Spirit for the forewarning dream, I realized how much God helps us out in Lent as He knows what might tend to be a bit much of a final straw.
So I knew that I'd have to travel into civilization to figure out what to do about a new phone. And with that distraction, I had to force my sinus-sick head and body up and out, and I determined that I'd tough out the sinus problems rather than to deal with doctors and antibiotics, at least for now.
Patience in suffering and being silently amused by challenges rather than up-ended, seems a good way to respond--and to rejoice in the reality that God truly does set out for us what we need to learn during Lent.
There was much to pray about on the long drive into civilization. An elderly friend was finding out the results of eye surgery. Would her vision be spared? The surgery and rather lengthy recovery period was to be her Lenten experience, at least thus far.
A cousin called, and she was peeved at a woman who was causing troubles for a women's group--over the programs and a luncheon, for pity's sake. The woman had become extreme in her view of righteousness, and she refused to give a program about a famous female photographer because the photographer was not a Christian and she specialized in photos of babies--nude but private areas obscured by flowers and such. And the meal menu included Chicken Marsala, so the woman objected to possible wine in the sauce.
I explained to my cousin that this is Lent, and this is her Lenten challenge, thus far. Pray for our enemies and understand that some people make themselves our enemies without intending to or realizing it. And learn how self-righteousness can be taken to a negative extreme. The woman will walk away sad, as it were, and the group will find another to share about the life of the photographer and to enjoy the Chicken Marsala. Jesus came to call sinners, not the self-righteous. It is well for all of us sinners to remember this truth.
God worked out the cell phone issue for this nothing consecrated Catholic hermit. The daughter and her husband offered to have me put on their family plan. The daughter had given me her old cell phone a few months ago in an attempt to help with navigating when driving in civilization. While I could not afford to have such a nice phone service, I could stop at a place with WIFI and at least look up directions.
But now, I will have phone service with the phone given me, at a reduced cost to what I was paying on my very old and basic phone. God provides! He provides in Lent all that He plans out for us to learn and have opportunities to respond even if our responses are not always the best. God will continue to provide Lenten challenges and events so that we get much practice, or to see His point.
Today the body is worn out from the added push yesterday. The head feels like heads do when sick. I did a bit of research, and read that drywallers often get infections from drywall dust. In fact, construction workers deal with all kinds of dust in renovations. Perhaps that is the reason for the nodules in the lining of this hermit's lungs--discovered by a scan last summer, another of God's providential revealings.
So I must not only wear a mask when sanding drywall mud, but wear it throughout the process of clean up and until dust settles, and wear it when using the shop vac, as well. In fact, I ought to wear a mask when using the table saw, as saw dust is plentiful and showering the air all about.
So it is with our spiritual lives, that we should protect our innermost parts, our inner senses and our very souls--from contaminants, dust, debris, and whatever irritants of the outer world of thoughts, words, deeds, and tangibles not good for us.
Who knows what today will bring from God's Lenten plans for any of us? Yet we set forth, and I will make some hot tea, eat the last of a fruit cockaigne baked three days ago, filled with healthy ingredients to help power this body in the work of living life here, now. Then I will try to paint a first coat of ceiling paint on the stairwell and hall ceilings. And use a mask when sweeping the remaining drywall dust, and pray for whatever and whoever the Holy Spirit brings into my heart of prayers.
Maybe this Lent, thus far, is teaching me to roll with God's unfoldings just a little bit better than I have in past Lents. I think the dream of the cell phone falling apart in small pieces is a very dear and sweet gift from God, reminding me that He cares very much about the little things in our daily lives, and that He is gentle with us, wanting us to not be anxious about temporal matters.
God bless His Real Presence in us! He truly Is--in us and present!