lenten journal: a word for today


    Spring Break began today for my school, along with many schools in our area. Usually it begins on Easter weekend, but this year they scheduled it earlier, which has thrown off my calendar a bit. The best news is I will get to play catch up a little in the garden tomorrow, or at least until the pollen pushes me back indoors. As Lent prepares to stretch out in the Last Long Week, I must admit to being caught a little off guard by the approach of Palm Sunday, even with writing everyday.

    You would think I’d be ready.

    The pace of life and my unpreparedness for What Is To Come makes me mindful of the gift we are given in being able to get ready: to prepare, to practice, to ponder. Easter has been on the calendar for a long time. We have scheduled the sacred into our lives, and scheduled around it. To be caught by surprise, even by what I know is coming, is a gift – a chance to catch a small glimpse of what it might have felt like the first time around.

    A couple of nights ago, I sent a message to an acquaintance here in town whom I need to see for some advice on a project. I suggested we get together next Friday (as in next week) and he wrote back agreeing to meet, thinking I meant tomorrow. When I clarified, he wrote back to say his mother-in-law was dying and he needed to go with his wife to be with their family as they said goodbye, commenting that she was an only child so she was carrying the bulk of the burden. After walking through the past year with my father-in-law Reuben’s descent into Alzheimer’s and death, I understood in a very visceral way. I wrote back to tell him to take the time he needed and then “I will see you after the Resurrection.”

    “Ahhh, yes,” he answered, “after the Resurrection . . .”

    An old friend whose heart has been broken sent a message tonight asking for prayer to be able to face the silence of the night the lies ahead. Those are the two stories of pain that come to mind most quickly tonight; I know more. So do you. We are tired, we are weak, we are worn.

    And we know whatever pain we know is not the last word.

    Growing up Baptist, I didn’t know about Lent, or, I should say, I thought Lent was something Catholics did that meant that had to give up stuff. Thanks to a long list of teachers and fellow pilgrims, I learned to tell time liturgically, which has made my Resurrection mornings even more powerful because, I think, I learned to take the darkness more seriously. I’ve learned that the direction our faith takes us through pain and grief, not around them. And I’m reminded almost daily that we go through them together.

    Tonight, that’s enough.


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