I admit it. Lent scares me a little. It started when I told a priest that I wasn't sure if I was giving up enough for Lent. I was pregnant and so unable to fast in a way that I wanted to (this is now the fifth year in a row that I've been pregnant during Lent). He assured me that I didn't need to worry too much, that God would probably help me out with that by assigning me the best cross for my sanctification. I looked at him in terror and spent the entire Lent looking over my shoulder - actually it was more in front of me: holding back the hair of a slew of vomiting kids, stepping in a clump of porridge (after already having changed my socks three times from stepping in other things generously distributed by the kids), jumping into bed after a long tiring day only to find someone had obviously bathed in dirt (which is an accomplishment in winter without the aid of the sandbox) and then swam through my sheets. These things happen in the course of my Vocation, but oh my gosh, LENT! Lent brings everything to a new height! My husband and I sometimes shake our heads at the increase of whining that often arises this time of year, we share a knowing moment and let out a simultaneous, "It's so Lent!"
Everything in me wants to love Lent. I want to kiss the cross and ask for more opportunities to unite my heart to Christ's in a special way. But but I am so weak. I am scared of pain and I'm quite partial to comfort. I know that there is joy in suffering, in being given a greater appreciation of the suffering Christ endured for my sake, but it hasn't brought me to a place where I desire more trials. It's similar to someone who really doesn't like the idea of the pain involved in their upcoming root canal, but understands how beneficial the procedure will be for their overall oral health. I need Lent. My spiritual health benefits greatly from this holy time and I do find joy in thinking of the tsunami of graces that come through the offerings, knowing that they will help me grow in holiness.
So here's my happy compromise, though it's hard for me to think about my impending crosses without bracing myself, I want to learn to face each one I'm given with gratitude in the moment. I'll step in the fresh pile of spaghetti under the table and as I wince (and before I hunt down the one responsible) I'll try to say, "Thank you, Lord." Knowing the gift it can be in learning to exercise greater patience and grace in the trenches of those squeamish moments. I'll stub my toe, and fix my eyes on a crucifix (we have one in most rooms) and let it stir a moment of remembrance of the jabs of pain He endured for my sake, and when I tell my daughter for the umpteenth time not to lick the pews, I will offer it for the many times I've had to confess the same sin over and over again. I want to see the crosses as Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy unfolding in a very real way: Clothe the Naked - especially the two year old I chase while trying to potty train, Admonish the Sinner - especially the one who keeps sneaking items from my snack stash.
I'll also try to appreciate that even though I loathe my weakness, my Lenten journey will be all the more powerful because of it. Because it's going to sting, it will be uncomfortable, and it will be extremely trying, but I get to love until it hurts.
So, yes Lent, you're scary, but often times the holiest things are just that. Bring it on and I will try, by God's grace to make the best use of this holy time. Oh happy spiritual root canal!