20 On that day holy to the Lord will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the Lord’s house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. 21 Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord Almighty.Zechariah 14: 20-21
I was sorting through my wardrobe when it happened. Selecting my summer clothes to store over the winter period I was once again confronted with the fact that so many of them hadn’t been worn for years. Even worse, some of them had never been worn. Bought ‘knowing’ I’d be able to fit into them soon, but the success never materialised.
My weight loss journey has been a constant in my life for about the last twenty years. Some of those years I was successful, albeit sometimes for only a brief period of time. However the war dragged on, even if I wasn’t always engaged in the battle. To continue with the metaphor – there were definite periods of prolonged capitulation.
But this was the first time that my lack of success had brought me near to tears.
It’s not even as if I hadn’t lost any weight at all. I’d lost fifteen pounds, over one third of my target. The thing is that I’d lost more and seemed to be stuck reverberating around that point.
It was coming up to Christmas and I’d believed that this was the year that I was going to be thin on Christmas Day. It was becoming patently clear that that wasn’t going to happen.
This wasn’t the only reason for my sadness though. I was tired of the journey, tired with having my mind and life controlled by food. I don’t just mean the diet. I was tired of having my life dominated by food.
This is when I came across this passage and I thought; wouldn’t it be wonderful to be free from treating food as an idol that was going to save me, but instead as a way to praise God.
Let’s face it, the most difficult thing about dieting is that you want those ‘treats’. Those off diet days, were you can indulge. But my battle with food has made those indulgences self serving. I go to the shops and guiltily buy all the things I shouldn’t and set myself to eating each morsel, often in seclusion.
Why the seclusion? I’m embarrassed by my behaviour. So why not bring it into God’s light? What would this look like?
As Catholic’s we have feasts galore. What if I made these red letter days? Marking these days in my diary – knowing that after prayer, and in communion I would enjoy.
This may sound strange to you, as most diets concentrate on the deprivation, and make a little room for the celebration. But there’s always the fear within them; if I let lose a little bit, will I be able to regain control.
By eating within the liturgical cycle I’m hoping to “let go and let God”. Praying when I need to refrain, praising when I consume.
Yesterday I spoke about how we the Church are still feasting and I encouraged you to just note what, how and why you ate. To start keeping a diary so you can become more conscious of why you eat the way you do.
Yet after a period of feasting it’s so easy to “start tomorrow” which, as we all know, never comes. So take a few moments and make a note of what red letters days you will be celebrating throughout the year and, most importantly, soon.
Why is this important?
Well Satan deals in lies and when it comes to destroying this particular idol in our lives there’s no better reference to what is happening around us than what happens with Eve in Genesis.
The serpent said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat fruit from any tree in the garden’?”Genesis 3: 1-2
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But God did say, ‘You must not eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden. Do not even touch it. If you do, you will die.’ ”
Notice how Satan opens with a lie, exaggerating the extent of God’s prohibition; he says that God says they cannot eat the fruit from any tree. However, as Eve points out they can. Just not that fruit.
Well, we can eat the fruit too. It’s just, like Eve, we have to limit to the type and amount that is healthy for us. But Satan makes us focus on what’s forbidden to the point it excludes and strips the joy from everything else.
As I pointed out in my first post on this series, food runs throughout the Bible. Yet what I didn’t say was that the pinnacle of food is, of course, the Eucharist. Now as a Catholic I see this as essential to my success in this journey, but to all Christians it points to this.
We’re meant to eat in communion, with a spirit of sharing and love. Not for oneself, but for our neighbour. Greed, gluttony is the opposite of that. Yet the habit is upon us without us realising and is so hard to overcome.
So in order to defeat the lies of Satan I’m focusing on some red letter days.
Here are my red letter days:
These red letter days are days I’ll feast in communion with my family and wider Church. Some of these days are Sundays, but I intend to celebrate every Sunday as a “Little Easter”. Next year they will be on other days of the week, but that’s ok as I hope to have lost sufficient weight to warrant a little more feast days.
I also chose some French saints feasts as I live here in France. I hope this means that I’m turning the inward, selfish indulgence food to become a wider love of my new country.
You are welcome to Download my red letter days here, or use them as a basis to make your own. The important thing is to begin to understand that abstenance is not forever and to truly enjoy our times of indulgence it needs to be uncommon and in communion. Not as some guilty, warped thing. Bring it into the light.