Lenten practices

A Lenten Detox


Dear Susan,

The list of what I am allowed to eat includes dandelions, mustard greens, and seaweed. No, I am not grazing through my neighborhood or on a survivalist course.  I was visiting my cousin, Debbie, over spring break and she convinced me to join her in a two-week detox while we were eating sweet potato muffins and sausage. I was reluctant to try a detox diet plan.  Some I had to dismiss as too expensive, but Debbie’s filled the bill. You even get to drink one of those trendy apple cider, lemon, concoctions that tastes like a liquid pie gone bad. Unlike the Keto Mess, I can have a little bread, which is good since pita is my preferred delivery method for the approved hummus and avocado. Other than that, it’s the usual (what Deb described as “the sad list”): limit sugar, no dairy, no alcohol, lots of salads, blah, blah, blah It seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s also 12 days, which takes me right to Easter Sunday. It’s a sign.


The Wild Rose Detox is from a company called The Garden of Life. That sounds so biblical! It has to be the perfect way to end my Lent strong. While I know many people are not a fan of practices like diets or exercise programs for their Lenten observances because they seem self-serving, I disagree. I believe it really depends on your intention and how much of a sacrifice it will be for you personally. Here’s some language from the web site: “Master herb is Radish which along with Dandelion stimulates bile flow to help eliminate toxins.” Eating dandelions seems appropriately penitential. In any case, for me, this is perfect because it dovetails with what I actually gave up for Lent which was (drumroll) …complaining about my weight.

As you know, the last two years, I have suffered from M&M syndrome (medicine and menopause), which has resulted in the complete destruction of my metabolism, a gain of almost 40 pounds, four pants sizes and a whopping 6 dress sizes. How is that for a humility wake-up call? The late, great Dr. Love tried to help, even prescribing Metformin, which is usually reserved for obese diabetics. Did it work? In the words of my son: Nope. The good thing is, it has resulted in some healthy habits. I exercise every day and watch what I eat – mostly. It is ironic that for 20 years, I couldn’t gain weight if I wanted to and now I can’t lose it. This Lent was all about putting that in perspective.dory

I realized I was obsessing too much over this, hence, the Lent of getting used to having plus-sized ads crop up on my internet feed (so creepy). A mental detox, if you will.  I cannot make my weight an idol to the exclusion of more important things: God, family, and gummy bears. The Swedish death cleaning saw the last of my old wardrobe go and, with it, the last of my whining and being defensive about my new size.  This Lent is time for a new frame of mind. So why the detox diet? Because, as someone in my prayer group said, keeping engaged in the struggle is important and it might even be good for me. OK, so she was talking about sin, but you get the idea. I also think it is much more effective to combine the mental and physical aspects of my goal. This is the outward, visible sign of what I am trying to accomplish. I would have to say, most of the pain I have coped with lately has been mental, but as the Cross shows us, the physical side of suffering is important, too.

This has been a really different Lent for me. I can’t say it has been my most spiritual in terms of prayer and reflection. However, it has given me what I needed: clarity. My word for the year was “desert” and I truly felt like I have been wandering around without guidance or focus for a while. Like my death cleaning, I find that there is a lot of baggage I am ready to let go of now. Some of it I wasn’t even aware I was carrying. If nothing else, I will be lighter in spirit!


The detox will give me the perfect boost to get over the Lent finish line and I think I will try to adapt this practice next year. I don’t know if you are stuck at all but consider adding something outside the box to your Lenten sacrifices close to the end to help energize you. Hopefully, it won’t involve drinking apple cider!



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