The best fast is to endure everything that God sends your way. - St. Anatoliy of Optina
As I make my shopping list that includes lots of black beans and lentils, this quote struck me. Almost every year I plan for the things I know are part of lent- prayer, fasting and almsgiving. But there are always things life throws at me that I couldn't have anticipated. Discouragements, heartbreak and failures. Things that I cause and things caused by others but that affect me.
In short, I often feel under attack during the first few weeks of lent. I feel everything trying to pull my focus away from God.
But God is not absent in these times. The things that way me down are not burdens he is blind to. He is with me in the struggle of asceticism, in the difficulty of repentance.
Endure. He gives me strength to endure. I will not have all the answers, I will not respond every time with grace and humility. But whatever comes my way, I can endure and keep going.
In the end, I may very well look spiritually like this woman:
But God is like those sweet people surrounding me. Wheelchair ready, any aid I need is there. Even if it isnt ready, I keep going. I endure, and eventually I get there.