I can tell that Lent is starting to bite because I am getting grumpy. Part of it is the fasting. I always get grumpy when I’m hungry.
But there is more to it than that. I’m determined to engage in the spiritual battle. I’m trying to pray more, and I believe when we really try to pray more we start stirring up some of the smelly, mucky stuff that has drifted down to the bottom of the pond that is our life.
The Holy Spirit wants that stuff to get stirred up so it can float to the top and be skimmed off at confession. The process, however, makes us grumpy, irritable, confused and spiritually restless.
Then the devil has his part to play. He doesn’t like the fact that we might be making spiritual progress, so he kicks us about if he can. Maybe we become a little too touchy and defensive. Maybe we feel a little hurt. Our vanity gets wounded and we spark off a spat with someone who has just been itching for a fight anyway.
Or maybe we just get grumpy because the grumpiness was cooking for a long time anyway, and now it all comes out. Then we realize other people we live with and work with might be taking Lent seriously too, and they’re getting grumpy and so we clash.
It’s not easy being a dwarf.
If I am short with people, maybe that’s because I’m, well…short. That’s to say I’m not big enough yet. I’m still one of the little people. I haven’t grown up into the full stature of Christ.
So, if I’m a little grumpy during Lent maybe it’s because I’m just a Little Grumpy.
But I take heart because hobbits were little people too, and look what heroes they turned out to be. Furthermore, it’s the little people who are promised entry into heaven. It’s little children who get in and people who follow the Little Way. If you want to read further along these lines, here is an article I wrote called The Little Way Through Middle Earth. It hooks up Therese of Lisieux with Frodo and Sam.