Fasting for Lent
March 9, 2019
Fasting has never been one of my strong points. I have always tried and sometimes failed to keep the church required fasting rules. There have been slip-ups from time to time but never intentionally. This consisted mostly of not eating meat on Friday’s during Lent. As for really giving up something near and dear to me during Lent is something I am ashamed to admit, I have not done very well. Being a diabetic food is not a good sacrifice. The thought of giving up something I really enjoy that won’t affect my diabetes such as not metal detecting has at times crossed my mind but I never did it. I have been metal detecting for Civil War relics non-stop for 40 years. It is just what I do. It is ingrained in my life style.
A little more than a year ago on March 9, 2019 I was at the Fredericksburg Relic Hunters annual Civil War Relic show. I had a table there and Tommy Harris who I have known for the better part of 40 years was set up next to me. During the day Tommy and I talked about a number of things. Tommy is a Greek Orthodox and mentioned to me that he has made a return to his church and is going more frequently now than in years past. The topic of Lent came up and Tommy asked me what I had given up for Lent. This question left me a little embarrassed because I had nothing to offer as a reply beyond the normal abstinence from meat on Friday’s. A little further into this conversation Tommy said “Giving up digging/metal detecting during Lent, now that would be a real fast.” My reply to Tommy was “Yes it would be.” That was the end of that conversation and we went back to tending our tables and talking to customers. The thought of actually giving up metal detecting for the entire season of Lent seem impossible to me at the time and I tuned it out of my thoughts.
Throughout the next year while out digging sudden flashbacks of that conversation would pop into my head. As the months rolled by it became more frequent. This conversation bounced around in my head frequently always while I was out metal detecting. The closer we came to Lent the more frequent it became, oftentimes accompanied by 13, 33 or 333.
As another Lent approached I prayed and decided that Tommy’s suggestion of giving up metal detecting for Lent was a good one. I also decided that I was going to do it. I also knew this was going to be hard for me to do. Because of its difficulty for me to actually accomplish the value would be greater. Now when I actually made this commitment I carved out two exceptions. The first one was that I would go metal detecting on Thursday February 5 because my good friend Kenny Copelin was coming to stay at my house for the March 6-7th Fredericksburg show and he was coming a day early in order to go digging. This had been planned a year ago at last year’s show. The 2nd exception I made was that if Fr. John Z. wanted to go metal detecting in the woods behind St. Patricks on Ely’s Ford Road I would go. Fr. Z. and I have been metal detecting the grounds since the start of construction of the new church. All relics I dig go Fr. Z. and St. Patrick’s.
Thursday February 5
Kenny arrived at my house late last night. He had driven 10 hours from Upton, Kentucky. I had every intention of going metal detecting with him and my other digging friend, Chuck Thompson today because it was a day I had originally carved out of my Lenten fast. That morning as I was brushing my teeth I was hit with a sudden thought that I could make this exception but it would be better if I did not. I did not know for sure what I was going to do. I went to the 8:30 mass at <Home Parish> and after receiving Holy Communion I decided that I would go but NOT actually metal detect. Chuck arrived at my house and the three of us loaded our metal detectors in the back of Chuck’s vehicle and we took off towards a Confederate camp located at Shakleford’s Woods in Orange, Va. We parked, got our detectors out and walked the 150 yards to the woods. At that point we went our 3 separate ways. Shortly after I was in the woods and HAD NOT turned on my metal detector I decided to just sit under a tree and pray the entire rosary for C.R.C.. As I sat down under the tree I inadvertently noticed my watch and the time was 12:33.
I completed the entire rosary by praying the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous mysteries. By the time I finished I was determined that I would not break my Lenten fast. I could hear Chuck and Kenny digging further back in the woods. They had no idea I was not detecting. At that point I nodded off and fell asleep sitting under the tree. I don’t know how long I slept. When I awoke I knew I had more time so I decided to pray another complete rosary. I did and when I finished I glanced at my watch and the time was 3:33.
I said thank you to God and I just sat there feeling VERY HAPPY that I had not broken my Lenten fast. A little while later I heard Kenny and Chuck come walking up and they saw me. They said they were ready to go. I looked at my watch and the time was 4:13. Neither of them ever knew I had not been detecting. We got back in Chucks truck and drove back to my house and when we pulled into the driveway I looked up and noticed the time on Chuck’s dash was 5:13.
March 28, 2020