12 | like an embrace #Lent2022

Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat.” (Matthew 25:26)

The summer I was fifteen, I tried to lose weight. My mother had always said I was too heavy, and she bought me a calorie guide, which I memorized. I planned my eating to meet a goal of eight hundred calories a day.

One Saturday I made a lunch of two open-faced cheese melts: no-calorie iceberg lettuce as bread, a fifty-calorie smear of no-fat cottage cheese (instead of tuna), and a fifty-calorie half slice of American cheese. My father sat nearby, eating his actual tuna sandwich and staring. As I opened the oven, he said, “I think this has gone far enough.”

His words surrounded me like an embrace. They told me I was fine as I was. Why was I punishing myself? My father wanted me to love myself as much as he did.

Now, when I notice my college students getting thin and looking distant in class, I ask them to come to my office. I breach the teacher-student divide and ask them what’s up. One former student, a successful writer and journalist, says I saved her life. I know my father saved mine. Ω

Reflect: When has somebody’s words surrounded you like an embrace? What words have helped you love yourself? Are there words of affirmation and acceptance you might offer to someone today? What loving words is God whispering to you now?

What is this? Lent is the 40 days, excluding Sundays, before Easter. Traditionally it is a time of reflection and pilgrimage. To help you on this journey, Sanctuary has put together 40 stories from people both within and beyond the congregation, with associated questions for reflection and prayer. A reading will be uploaded every day of Lent. This year’s theme is Fruit of the Spirit. Why? Read this. #Lent2022. Real People, Real Stories: 40 Readings for Lent © Sanctuary, 2022. From Beth Cleary. ‘Interruptions’. The Sun. Issue 528. December 2019: 35.

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