Lent 2021


Lent 2021: Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

spaghetti aglio e olioA Reflection for the Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

One benefit of student life is that you quickly learn the art of cooking cheap, simple meals that still somehow taste good. My fallback is a dish called spaghetti aglio e olio, spaghetti with garlic and olive oil. It’s a pasta of six ingredients: spaghetti, olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, parmesan and parsley. You sauté the garlic and olive oil for the length of Taylor Swift’s “The Last Great American Dynasty,” adding the red pepper flakes during the final verse. Then you switch Spotify to Carole King because you’re classy like that and stir in some salt and pasta water for the length of “Way Over Yonder.” Next you toss in the spaghetti, parmesan and parsley, and by the time Carole is really going to town on the piano in “I Feel the Earth Move,” dinner is on the table.

While I was cooking this evening, I wondered how such simple pantry ingredients could come together to create a dish that is so much greater than the sum of its parts. To me, Lent itself is a time of simplicity. During these forty days of waiting, we step back and pare away the excess and clamor of our everyday lives in the hope of recentering on that which truly matters: the simple joys of prayer, reflection and meditation. The restrictions of quarantine have only deepened this contemplation for me. In the absence of sprinting between classrooms and attending in-person events, I find myself becoming re-sensitized to the small joys of life itself: Aglio e olio, of course, but also books, early morning runs, laughing with friends, chocolate chips, ESTEEM meetings, texts from family, good rainboots, and, in the full knowledge that it’s a punishable-by-law cliché: sunsets. Sunsets. Sun. Sets.

The list is different for everyone, but the idea remains the same. The world which God created for us is comprised of simple things that come together to create incredible everyday beauty, a world that is miraculously greater than the sum of its parts. Lent to me is the perfect time to step back and reflect on the small blessings in our lives as we wait for the greatest blessing, the resurrection of the Lord. In your faith practice today, I invite you to reflect on the people or things in your life that perhaps slip your notice but nevertheless make all the difference.