Lord, how do I fast from selfishness? How do I take apart my DNA, unwind the axis and find where selfishness has hidden, beg a surgeon to take tweezers and pluck original sin?
And now here’s my honest question: Do I even want it out? And another: What will it truly cost me?
A more telling question: what will it cost me, my Love, my little child-loves, to leave the self rule running rampant? Tim Keller (in the Meaning of Marriage) says that selfishness is the main issue behind every pang in marriage. He says trying to fit together two going their separate directions creates a dance discordant. I’ve started watching, seeing the selfish act afterwards when it is too late to do anything but repent.
Before Ash Wednesday I ask You about the fast and You usually point to the rooted sin, that which will not exhume except from daily focus, constant practice, self-denial connected to accountability. 40 days in the wilderness.
This year I see the shortcuts, the ways I huddle around “me” time growling at anyone who snatches at it, the way I believe I am right, always right and see the sin cancer fog clear. And greed is selfishness run amok when others are fighting just for daily bread. What kind of fast will grasp the hoe, root the self-god out?
Romans 8:13-14 says, “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”
Tomorrow morning, my husband will sweep across my bangs with one hand, wipe a cross of ashes wide. I will stand with the children trying to keep order and whisper in their ears, trying to make sense of mystery. He will get down on his knees, press burnt palms across their unwrinkled foreheads from last years Palm Sunday where we all cried, “Hosanna” not realizing what it would cost. And with his Adriatic sea blue eyes, the ones I’ve watched over nearly 20 years grow wise, he will look into mine, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return.”
I am dust, and to dust I shall return. How easily I forget.
And I gradually understand, this dragon cannot be slain by any weapon I have in my hand, but only exposed and conquered by the Spirit’s work. My fast will be to lay down daily on the surgeon’s table, beg for Spirit’s intervention: To journal, search scripture. To listen. To pray. A fast of increased attention.
I pray the dangerous prayer, the one I know will be answered, the one that will send the Spirit riding to deliver, sword flashing:
wipe scales with knife
separate Your daughter vulnerable
clinging in an unholy worship.
I wait, listen, search the heavens for the Coming. He always comes when I call. He promises. He promises you too, friend, dear one. He promises you, too.