There is only one week left before Holy Week. By now, we’ve gotten into the swing of Lent and may be doing a stellar job or we may have succumbed to not keeping Lenten promises. After all, it’s about Jesus and our relationship with Him and not about what we decide to give up for Lent that matters most. The question we need to ask ourselves, is how did we draw closer to Christ?
“Hangry” Lenten Season
For some, Lent may have gone on as usual. My Lent is turning out to be very different than past Lenten seasons, mostly because of pandemic living. I gave up sweets and alcohol and attachments to certain things. A surprising thing has happened, though. As of this week, I have decided to fast continuously. I am checking what I eat and how much I eat and try to feel the “pangs” of hunger. This is unheard of for me. I eat consistently at the same time each day and do not like to “go hungry.” Or, shall I say, I don’t like it when I am “hangry.” I decided that I wanted to think about and focus on my hunger to draw closer to Jesus. Today, it made me realize how much I think about food. It’s probably because I am a foodie and I love to eat.
Another reason I decided to embark on this hunger deprivation is that I am going through a spiritual dryness. It is a dryness that I have never felt before. It is a draught. I feel like the pandemic has thrown me off track–shaken me up. Initially, when there was no in-person Mass and the comfort of your surrounding church family, it caused me to draw inward. I am working through it by living with it, trusting that God is there. One thing that has helped me is working outside of the house, otherwise I think I would go totally berserk.
Mountaineers on Mt. Everest have to deprive themselves and eat a lighter diet. They are focused on the end goal and come prepared to attempt reaching it.
Traversing the Upper Camps
After crossing the Khumbu Icefall and making it to Camp 1, many climbers go back and forth between Camp 1 and Camp 4 to acclimatize there body to the lack of oxygen. Gradual ascent is the most important factor in preventing acute mountain sickness. Staying a day or two to rest in one spot for every 2,000 feet of climbing above 8,000 feet is the prescribed method to ward off physical complications.
Success in acclimatizing depends on the speed of your climb and how hard you push yourself. When the body is deprived of oxygen and low air pressure, the body can exhibit signs of mountain sickness which could be mild to life-threatening and can affect the nervous system, lungs, muscles, and heart.
Mild to moderate mountain sickness symptoms include: difficulty sleeping; dizziness or light-headedness; fatigue; headache; loss of appetite; nausea or vomiting, rapid pulse (heart rate); shortness of breath with exertion. More severe acute mountain sickness symptoms include: blue color to the skin (cyanosis); chest tightness or congestion; confusion; cough; coughing up blood; decreased consciousness or withdrawal from social interaction; gray or pale complexion; cannot walk in a straight line, or walk at all; shortness of breath at rest. There are medics at the camps but you are a long way from a full array of medics and medical equipment.
Spiritual Dryness is a Thing
Spiritual dryness is kind of like a sickness, too. In a way, God is like a parent that lets His child go out to drive alone for the very first time or pretty much any time after they get their license. He trusts that the child can drive safely. I am surprised that God does this because it is really nerve-wracking as a parent of teenagers drivers.
Being in a spiritual desert is feeling like we have to rely on ourselves. Of course, we don’t have to rely on ourselves. We can fall back on prayer, attend Mass more often or read daily scripture and meditate upon it. Often times, I may think I can go it alone, but God will be there in the subtlest of voices in the circumstances of daily living. After all, we constantly look for His consolation like a child wanting to be loved but instead we experience a lack of this attention which creates a feeling of desertion. As a mature believer, we don’t always feel this consolation like when we first experienced His loving presence and we might be worried about this sense of being in a spiritual desert.
I take great comfort in knowing that the saints also experienced this dryness but they never lost hope. St. Mother Theresa, of all people, experienced excruciating spiritual dryness for many years! She accepted this as God’s will for her life and she incorporated a blind faith as the dryness continued.
A Master of the Mountain
World-renowned Mother Theresa of Calcutta, now Saint Theresa of Calcutta, a champion for the poor and destitute, experienced a profound spiritual dryness.
Life Is – An inspirational Poem by Mother Teresa
Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.
Let God Do the Heavy Lifting
Sometimes you just want someone to carry that heavy load for you in life. Everyone has some sort of baggage or load they would like to be rid of. News flash: no matter your situation in life, everyone has a story and we all experience the same types of things.
The Mt. Everest Sherpa do a lot of the heavy lifting when climbing Mt. Everest. Without their help, inexperienced climbers would not make it to the summit. Sherpas are a member of a Himalayan people living on the borders of Nepal and Tibet, renowned for their skill in mountaineering. They are part work-horse part guide, carrying heavy loads of food, supplies and oxygen tanks for their clients up and down the mountain. Many unexperienced climbers would not be able to summit without their skill and knowledge.