Don't look at me like I am crazy, but I really love Lent.
My first Ash Wednesday as a Christian, I went to S. Stephen's in Providence with a friend and got the ashes placed on my forehead. It was amazing to walk outside into the world marked as a believer. I was so psyched by it I went home and rubbed some of the ashes onto a piece of vellum and glued it into my journal.
That first Lent was extraordinary. At first it was about the sacrifice. But as the season progressed, it was more and more about the upcoming Holy Week. And what a weird week it was. On the Tuesday of Holy Week, I found out that a childhood friend had committed suicide. So the week was very intense, with grief over my friend comingling with my first taste of the devestating grief of Jesus' death. I cried through the Passover Seder we had a Bell Street. And through Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and even Easter Even. I wondered, at points, if the grief would ever go away. Not on Sunday, but by the following Monday I woke up with such Joy in my heart... such a lightness of being, I knew that it could only mean that Christ has risen.
I figured last year would be easier and less emotional. And it was, on many levels. (No suicides, Thank God.)
But in our bible study we were coming to the Passion and the week before Holy week we read the story of Gethsemane and I was so horrified at the disciples abandoning Him I wanted to run away. I remember rushing home and breaking my fast. I wanted to run away. I wanted to sleep through it. Suddenly the pain of abandoning Jesus was so real I couldn't bear it. On Maundy Thursday I sat at the alter of repose for a long time, not wanting to leave him. Trying to reassure myself that I was not abandoning him. But eventually, of course, I got up and left. As we all do.
This year, I have no idea how this will go. For the first time my children will be fasting with me. (They are giving up candy and meat on Fridays!) It touches me that they want to do it.
I am giving up sweets. And meat on Fridays. I am recommitting to my centering prayer practice and finishing the bible. But mostly I am trying to be open to whatever God has in store for me.
Cleanse me, oh Lord, that I may be worthy of you.