They sat with only an eggplant pizza between them. The ricotta formed soft mounds; the savory sauce, intermittent; the strips off eggplant, fried, but not beyond holding their flavor. The brunette cut into her slice and really tasted the first bite. She used to eat pizza without thinking, but things were different now.
It was a Lenten meal, but no food was held back. The rolls were drenched in olive oil and seasoning; the salad was crisp and well dressed; and the pizza, too large for two people, promised another meal yet to come.
It was the season of relinquishment, but what the brunette had given up was God.
She knew God as harsh disciplinarian, disapproving father, distant deity. And she needed to know a God she could get close to, so for Lent, she gave him up. She gave up her ideas about God and asked for God instead.
And with only a good meal separating them, the redhead was close enough to see: There was something different about the girl enjoying her slice.
She folded her arms on the table and leaned in, marveling, kind. “You’re so brave. I could never do what you’re doing without a safety net. I could never be alone.”
The brunette shook her head, not out of modesty, but in so intimately knowing the truth.
“I’m not brave. But I’m grateful. It’s in the emptiness I’m finding God.”
“How?” The redhead leaned closer, if only with her heart.
“Because when I cast aside my safety net, I had nothing else.”
She thought of her long walk to the mailbox. Of the lonely space she felt in those steps. Of her sadness. Of her shame. Of her fear. Of the God who spoke and dispelled it all with the words, “There is nothing between us.”
“I had nothing else, and it made space for God to come close. And in that emptiness, that loneliness, that darkness, I could finally hear God. And I heard that God loved me, exactly as I am.” The brunette savored her single slice of the gracious pie.
The redhead had earnestly forgotten her dinner. She picked up her fork and knife and began to cut in to her soft, warm roll.
It was Lent, and in the emptiness was space for drawing near. And God would provide the meal.