Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Joys of Left-Hand Brushing

In church today, during the children's sermon, the pastor spoke about willpower. This being Lent, the topic was timely. Now, my pastor is an intense man. He is burly and strong and, when he does something, he does it all the way. This can either be bad or good. He exercises strenuously, but also eats in the same manner. He is something of a 'foodie' and will regale any listener with lessons ranging from the subtle differences in apple varieties, to the best restaurants for Israeli hummus or Polish dumplings. He makes impromptu visits to my house, armed with dog biscuits for my three crazy canines. He will sit at my dining room table and hold court for an hour, talking about movies, food, or the health benefits of walking in those rocker-type shoes that are becoming popular.
The pastor has put on weight in the past few years, despite his active lifestyle. It's the foodie thing, I think. He simply loves food. The idea AND the partaking.
So. Back to willpower. For Lent, this year, the pastor has decided to fast every day of the week except Sundays. He reports that he drinks milk and juice, but eats nothing from Monday through Saturday. Now Lent is forty days long, not including the Sundays within it. Many of us are used to 'giving up' something, be it chocolate, or cursing, or the mall. If we have given up something dear to us, then we need WILLPOWER to stay on track.
During this children's sermon, he asked the kids, "what IS will power?" No one spoke. "Willpower is when you set your mind to do something and you DO IT," he thundered. He threw out some examples for them, like giving up junk food, or bodybuilding. The kids nodded silently. "Willpower is like any muscle," he continued. If you exercise it, it becomes stronger day by day. He suggested to them that they all practice brushing their teeth with their non-dominant hand for the remainder of Lent. "This will train your willpower," he said. "Try it."
After sending them off to Sunday School, I pondered his message, with the knowledge of his own resolution in mind.
I don't usually do the Lenten 'give up' thing anymore. But I do like the idea of strengthening my willpower muscle. Tonight, Sunday night, we all gathered at the church for the weekly Lenten Potluck supper and study. The pastor ate his once-weekly supper heartily. He never made mention of his fasting resolution. And tomorrow he will move on about his day, with strength, conviction and intensity. And he will not stop for lunch.
So be it.

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