This morning, I bought a breakfast burrito from my favorite spot in Abilene.
Those of you who live in the area are probably familiar with the wonder that is La Popular. Indeed, this well-named local chain of hole-in-the-wall burrito shacks seems to be one of the more popular eateries in town. If ever I mention to someone that I went to La Popular for breakfast, I almost always get a knowing smile, no matter who the person is. And this is because La Popular’s appeal transcends a whole variety of boundaries. Whenever I stop by, there are people from all walks of life waiting for burritos: blue collar and white collar workers, English speakers and Spanish speakers, civilians and military personnel. A visit to La Popular is an opportunity to meet people of different backgrounds and celebrate the diversity of our community.
I think the main reason that La Popular’s appeal cuts across cultural boundaries is not for any existential reason, but rather because the burritos are really, really good. The tortillas are some of the best I’ve ever had: soft and chewy with just the right levels of flavor. The filling is always savory and delicious, and the little containers of salsa are so good that they should be illegal. But the best aspect of La Popular’s burritos is how well constructed and balanced they are. Each contains just the right amount of filling and is folded in such a way that your chorizo and egg (or whatever you ordered) almost never falls out of the tortilla and onto the floor. It’s marvelous to watch the cooks assemble these burritos: they place spoons into the containers of the chorizo and egg mixture, pull out exactly the same amount every time, place the filling into the middle of the tortilla, and fold the tortilla with utter commitment and not a moment of hesitation. The resulting burritos aren’t over- or under-stuffed; they are perfectly balanced and delicious.
We sometimes get caught up in the notion that our lives of faith don’t really count unless we are doing as much as we possibly can. We sometimes feel obligated to attend every educational opportunity at church, to go to worship services three or four times a week, to make sure all of our reading is somehow devotional, and to listen only to sacred music. There’s nothing wrong with any of these things, but we need to be careful that our faith lives do not become overstuffed. We must be careful that our devotional practices serve a purpose, that they move us toward a more intimate relationship with God, and are not mere obligations destined to end up on the floor. In other words, our spiritual lives should be balanced. At the same time, it does not make any sense for us to engage in these balanced spiritual practices halfway. Like the cooks at La Popular, we must engage our lives of faith with utter commitment and without hesitation. As you use this Lenten season to examine your spiritual lives, I encourage you to discern those spiritual places where you might be both balanced and committed.