He sat with orange juice dripping off his four-year-old elbows, a pile of clean peels in front of him. His little legs curled beneath his body on the simple wood floor.
No table, no chairs. Just a blue plastic plate with a few grains of rice clinging to its surface. And the joy of feasting on a simple piece of fruit. He could have been any young child anywhere in the world. But he was mine.
“Can we eat on the floor every day, daddy?”
Yes, son. That would be a great idea. You spill enough milk most days to make eating on the floor a very appealing option!
It was our final meal of Lent, a quiet, spare finish to 40 days of eating simple foods. We pushed our table and chairs out of the way as one final fresh reminder of how different our life is from those who live struggling to meet their daily needs.
My leg fell asleep. I’m not used to rough simplicity. Point taken.
As we ate our final meal, anticipating the feast of Easter Sunday, the grand mystical celebration of life breaking past death, I felt content. Thankful.
No fireworks went off after more than a month of eating rice, beans and chicken.
I didn’t morph into super-spiritual man, full of profound wisdom.
There was no voice calling from the clouds to tell me I had just moved higher on God’s approval list.
But almost halfway through my journey a letter arrived from Billy, in Haiti, with messy handwriting that said the birthday money we sent had purchased a small brown pig. He asked how our family would be celebrating Easter.
Easter morning came. I stepped on the scale to see that 17 pounds had fallen away. We sang exuberant songs about life and resurrection.
We ate strawberries – and marshmallow Peeps – dipped in dark chocolate.
I thought about hope and decadence and life, and about how our culture so rarely really appreciates feasting, because we usually feast constantly. I thought about my son with orange juice dripping off his elbows, feasting in basic simplicity. I thought about a little boy in Haiti and his little brown pig.
And I thought about how I could continue some practices of anticipation and celebration. Then, with all the gratitude 40 days of simplicity produces, I ate another chocolate-dipped Peep.
When have you deeply appreciated a feast? Will you join me next Lent or at some other time this year by eating what your sponsored child eats for a period of time?