Those of us who know Nancy, know she's one of those people who radiates "healthy." Not in a smells-like-patchouli-oil-and-shops-at-loose-Lucy's kind of way (with all due respect to that crowd, because I still love a long-flowy skirt on a summer day). No, Nancy just has that glow of someone who probably did not eat Taco Bell for lunch and who can tell you what to add to your tea to make your cold go away faster.
That's why, when I complained of an upset stomach on Facebook a few weeks ago, I perked up when Nancy suggested a cleanse kit she uses. A few vitamins at the beginning and end of the day, lots of water and no processed food for a seven days and I, too, could radiate good health and probably be immune to the common cold.
It sounded so easy. I began with gusto.
Here's what Day 1 looked like:
6:30 a.m. My alarm goes off. I take the vitamins with some water, take a deep breath and think, "Yes. Good health awaits. I'll probably not even notice a change since I'm already very healthy. I often pay the 99 cents extra to sub a salad for fries. This will be a cake walk." Hmm ... Cake. My stomach begins to growl.
8 a.m. I finish the lone cup of coffee I am allowed and have a bowl of oatmeal and fruit for breakfast. One cup of coffee is about four cups fewer than what I typically consume by this time of day. My focus wanes.
10 a.m. It's not lunchtime yet.
10:13 a.m. Still not lunch.
11:15 a.m. I should probably eat lunch early today. Wouldn't want my grain rice and veggies in the fridge to get taken by a co-worker.
5:35 p.m. I serve pizza to the youth group and munch on carrot sticks as I lead a Bible study, trying very hard not to cry when the kids say they saved me a slice.
7:27 p.m. I lie on my couch, defeated. I can't do this for a week. The Ben and Jerry's in my freezer sings to me, promising to fill the emptiness and lift me from my misery.
8:14 p.m. I take the evening's vitamins with more water and plod to bed. Visions of sugar plums dance in my head. Actual sugar plums that you can eat.
I'll stop now. Let's just say the second day was a lot like the first, only after lunch I found myself pulling an empty box from the trash can. A co-worker had tossed it after finishing the fried chicken it once contained. I stood there, smelling the grease stains.
On the third day, something was different. I didn't dream of McDonald's. One cup of coffee was enough. I'm not usually a morning person, but for once I didn't feel like I needed to roll over and hit snooze three -- or 13 -- more times. I realized I might be OK -- and even better off -- because of this experience. I perservered.
Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent -- the four weeks before Christmas when we have the opportunity to reflect on the birth of Christ and his eventual return. This can make us a bit uncomfortable as we realize how much sin, laziness and ugliness we've allowed to get into our lives.
The first few days of cleansing I thought I wasn't going to make it but after a week of discipline, I felt so much better. In the same way, it's a struggle to root out sin and truly prepare for the coming of Christ. Like any change of habit, ridding ourselves of our pet sins and vices is hard and requires that we assert our will over our desires. However, our souls will exist -- for better or for worse -- eternally. Caring for them is the best investment we can make.
Follow columnist Alison Griswold at twitter.com/alisongriz. Read her blog at www.teamcatholic.blogspot.com.