Lent: Day Twenty-two-S

Sunday is my only sleep-in day. By that I mean I get to stay in bed until 7:30 or 8:00 am. It is then time to get up and get ready for church. The rest of the week I am usually up between 6:00 and 7:00, except Saturday when it is always up before 6:00 since my men’s study gets here at 7:30 am for our Knowing God study.

On weekends my wife prepares the food while on weekdays it is my turn. So, on Sunday morning I am usually roused by a hot cup of coffee wafting its invigorating aromas from the nightstand near my head. It is an uncomplicated joy that fits nicely into the blessing that is my wife and her sustaining gifts of small pleasures.

Learning to appreciate the little things in life is what makes life into such a wonderful mosaic, a rich tapestry of unique moments artfully crafted by God for our (and his) enjoyment. While some people try to live an outsized life, going from one extravagant experience to the next, it doesn’t take them very long until they have pushed about all the limits they can safely push, until they begin to suffer Marie Antoinette’s disease, until they wake up one morning and nothing tastes.

There is a fairy tale about a young and dissolute prince who goes hunting in a dense forest and gets lost. After several frustrating days of unsuccessful wandering and with the late afternoon sun quickly departing, the prince, achingly hungry and growing depressed, fears that he will die, alone and forgotten. Then off in the distance he hears a chopping sound. Stumbling towards it and staggers into a clearing and finds a woodcutter working on the tree he has cut down. The woodsman, who had already eaten most of his lunch, shares with the bedraggled prince the crusty end of the loaf of bread his wife had made the day before, along with the last of his porridge sweetened with a little honey. The prince, never having eaten such course food before, finds the simple fare ravenously delicious. He tells the woodcutter that despite his humble station he eats like a king. The woodcutter lets out a hearty laugh and tells the prince that hunger awakens even the most jaded of palettes and suggests that he should fast more often. The prince, after thanking the woodcutter for the food and the word of wisdom, breaks his aristocratic mold and helps the man finish his day’s labor by carrying some of the wood back to the woodcutter’s cottage. Then taking his leave, he again thanks the woodcutter, whose wife gives the prince a fresh-baked loaf of the bread, similar to what he had eaten earlier, as a comfort to him on the remainder of his journey. From there the prince easily finds his way back to the castle, though this time with a new appreciation for simple pleasures and the virtues of a life of moderation. The prince, changed by these events, leaves behind his days of dissipation and excess and becomes renown in the kingdom for his concern for the common people and his enjoyment of the simple things in life. While previously petulant and dissolute, he now becomes kind and moderate and lives out his days happy and content, an example to the whole kingdom.

Those who eschew the modulated life, one that alternates periods of quiet withdrawal with times of consumption and enjoyment, are destined to run their appreciation of everything into the ground in an endless cycle of more and better until there is only less and nothing of consequence. It is not without wisdom that God warns us that the pursuit of pleasure does not satisfy.

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility. I said of laughter, “It is madness,” and of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?” Ecclesiastes 2:1-2

So, that is one of the wonderful byproducts of keeping Lent; your appreciation of the small things in life increases and your life becomes more balanced.

May the Lord bless your day and grant you too an appreciation of simple pleasures and small things.