Ah Lent. No matter where you fall in the Christian year, you are always too soon. This year we have good cause after only 5 weeks of Epiphany to have neglected your arrival, but we always find cause, and for that, I am sorry.
I have always benefitted from our time together. Many years ago when I gave up meat for Lent, I stayed vegetarian for about 4 years. And I learned a lot about the impact of our ridiculous consumption on the rest of the world. And then, remember last year, when I gave up complaining? Yeah, that was hard. You got a kick out of that one. But you know what? Now, when I start down that griping road, a little buzzer goes off in my head. That didn’t happen before, so thanks for that.
And even when I have failed, that has always been cause for reflection. You really are quite forgiving, which shouldn’t surprise me since that is one of the big themes of the season.
And none of this, “Don’t give something up, take something on” stuff. No, no, not for us. Because the taking something on is already part of the whole journey. It’s “self-examination, penitence, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and by reading and meditating on the word of God.” And, not or. Oh yeah. You and me, Lent, we know what we are doing.
I’ve tried to come up with something to give up. I’ve prayed. I’ve thought. I’ve read the ideas of others. And last night, as I was lying in bed trying to figure out what it would be this year, I realized something. The figuring out was making me tired, and the idea of giving anything up made me sad.
Tired. Sad. Two things I do not need to nurture in my life right now.
I have given up a lot these past few months. I gave up a community I love from the pressure of a few and sacrificed my mental health in hopes of reconciliation which never happened. I moved away from my amazing husband to take care of my mother. I gave up my own recovery time to take care of her. I am giving up significant income and social interaction with people who have seen me through a lot of shit.
And I regret nothing. God has guided me through it all, sustained me and been faithful to me even when I couldn’t be faithful to Her.
I just can’t give up anything else.
I need my comforts. I need the anticipation of a warm cup of coffee in my hands to get me out of bed. I need TV to keep me from ruminating on my loneliness in my cozy but cold house. I need the occasional sweet treat to remind me that I deserve to enjoy special things. I need facebook and twitter to stay connected with those I love.
I know there are others who have soldiered through worse and still done their Lenten fast. But I’m not them. Maybe the fasting would bless me more, reminding me that it is in my absolute weakest moments that God is strongest (2 Corinthians 12:9). You know what, though? I’m figuring that one out right now. I don’t need to push it.
I’m still here. I’m not going anywhere. I’m sitting here with ashes on my forehead remembering that I am but dust. And right now, a lot of the time, I don’t need that reminder, because dust is about all that is left of me.
Keep on being that beautiful season, reminding me of my beginnings, and how God forgives the absolute worst in me. Robe me in your rich purple and smells of smoke. Convict me with your Gospel and nurture my soul with your psalms.
But please, give me a pass on fasting. I’ve already given up too much, and I have to get it back.