I am still basking in the limelight, or should I say, pink light of Valentine’s Day. My husband and I usually celebrate at home with dinner, greeting cards, and chocolate, etc. It’s probably a holdover from when the kids were growing up because we always liked to celebrate the holiday with them as well.
Now, we are empty nesters, and this year we went out for dinner and then to a local bar to play pool. It was fun. We were going to stay and dance but the DJ wasn’t playing our kind of music so we left shortly after he started playing. Plus, the bar scene is not one where we usually hang out but my husband knows I like to dance, so he put in the effort to try and find a place.
Lent is almost here! It’s one of my favorite church seasons and I usually run toward it. Having previously been a member on the liturgy committee at my church, I always helped organize the Ash Wednesday services and Lenten décor. It’s been a few years since I’ve been involved with it so I’ve gotten out of the habit of always having the church seasons in the forefront of my mind.
Our then committee started a tradition that is still in practice today of having the parishioners bring in their old palms to be burned and used during Ash Wednesday services. The burned palms did not spread easily so we ended up just purchasing the ashes. However, the tradition is still alive, because like clock-work, the old palms appear every year before Ash Wednesday. At the time we thought it was a good “visual” for people to help them prepare for the upcoming season. I guess they liked the idea because the palms show up year after year.
The main reason why I like Lent is because it is a turning inward to examine what we need to throw out, just like the old palms. Every year, as the sun begins to make more of an appearance, the dust on the furniture stands out, the clutter in the corner beckons, and the scale tips a few pounds over. It is time to wake up through observing this penitential season, to conversion and striving to reconcile with the Church (confession), creation, and our relationships. The best way to do that is by the three pillars of Lenten observance: praying, fasting, and almsgiving.
We can meditate upon the Passion during Lent by attending Stations of the Cross or walking “The Way” on our own. Of course, the rosary helps us meditate on the Passion as well. Many parishes have retreats and missions that help draw us closer to Christ. We can look to the stark decor of the church and our homes to remind us that hope in the Resurrection is not that far off. There is beauty in starkness.
Aside from fasting from meat on Fridays and Ash Wednesday during Lent, in or culture, we can fast from many things. Many people give up chocolate, alcohol, or TV, just to name a few. Some people are creative and purge items from their homes or give of themselves more by helping at a homeless shelter or visiting the sick. One biggie to give up or curb is social media. It really has become a drug for many in our society. In fact, that is one area that I am going to concentrate on curbing to become more productive with the myriad of little projects I have and to address areas in my home that need cleaning, purging or organizing. Perhaps saying a prayer before starting a project will lift minds to God so He can become part of the project.
Almsgiving is a harder one for me but this year, I have been focusing on my own family so I will continue that by perhaps attending to them spiritually through prayer and otherwise.
Even though I feel like I am not ready for Lent, it comes like clock-work and my body and mind will “kick into gear” to prepare my heart for the journey..