Well, that wraps up another Lenten season and I don’t know about you, but I feel like I crashed and burned. Again.
Just a few days I go I was bemoaning this to some friends: I don’t’ come from a family or tradition that really “did” Lent. I’m a convert so EVERYTHING is new and different and confusing and I’m constantly forgetting things and then remembering that they were really important about a week later. Lent feels like this every year. I just can’t seem to remember everything I’m supposed to do for myself let alone all the rich traditions I’m meant to be creating for my children and family.
That Lent countdown poster? Stayed in its bag until Holy Thursday; as did the Stations of the Cross for kids booklet we got at Religious Ed.
Adoration? Stations? Ha! Well, I wrote them in my planner, so I get points right?
Getting to all the stuff we’re supposed to do during Holy Week, plus baking, cleaning, prayer, building a rocket to the moon and perfecting cold fusion? Big ol’ nope.
I often hear people say they don’t need Lent. Thank goodness it’s not in their tradition because they don’t need it. Well, I need it. I need it because if it’s hard for me to remember not to eat cookies (why do I know so many people with Girl Scouts?) then that’s probably saying something about my ability to say no to bigger things. If I can’t find five minutes of prayer when I’m absolutely supposed to do it, I’m probably not doing so hot the rest of the year.
I need Lent because I’m still working on this thing that is me. I need Lent because I’m still learning how to be a good wife, mother, friend, and daughter. I need Lent because I’m lazy and selfish and greedy and it’s so easy to overlook that in a world that insists “You do you” is the highest level of consciousness and perfection.
I need to get better and Lent helps me remember that. I need to pray more and give more. I need to prioritize different things and be more humble. I need to be more aware and be more thankful.
What are some of the concrete things I’ve taken away this year? I need to figure out how to bring our faith home in a way that is practical and fits in our family culture so that I’m doing better in the education of my children. I need to prioritize time in prayer, which other than ad-libbed spontaneous prayer is all but nonexistent. I need to be more generous – it’s hard when you live a frugal, budgeted existence to remember how much you can give and to not prioritize things based on what you get back and I can do better with freely giving and blessing others.
This weekend I attend an Easter service with my family (they attend at a small, rural Methodist Church) and the pastor there gave a great sermon about Mary finding the tomb empty. Mary was so overcome with emotion, so worried about the here and now that the Angels appearing not phase her, unlike every other instance in the Bible the Angels don’t start with “Be not afraid” and not too long after, still so worried and concerned in the moment she even fails to see Jesus standing before her.
I think failing at Lent this year has made me realize how much like Mary at the Tomb I can be – so wrapped up about the here and now that I fail to see God standing before me – in my family, in my community, and in my own soul.
Luckily, there’s always next year.