Archive for February 23, 2020

ANTICIPATING LENT (February 26 – April 9, 2020)   11 comments

Time out from focusing on “My Father’s House” to pay attention to the church season ahead. Yes, it is in the Christian tradition, but I hope it will be of interest starting with my atheist friends and on down, because I think we all care about the ultimate goal of the season – at least as I understand it.

To tell the truth, the season never meant terribly much to me personally before I grew up in my much later years. I do remember the year when I wanted to be like so many of my friends, so I gave up something – reading the comics. That was a major sacrifice given that my parents were scared to death about the effect the “funnies” might have on me. After all, I did greedily consume the violent ones. I guess maybe that sacrifice accomplished something – I found I had the strength of will to survive such a long period of time without a comics fix.

I was probably about 13 years old the year I gave up boys. I’m not really sure in recollection what that meant since I was certainly not busy dating, or even particularly attractive to the other sex. I do know there were times when Hallie had to go off to dances (or something) by herself because of my determination. What did that sacrifice accomplish? I don’t know – maybe a respite from having to deal with whatever changes were going on inside me.

I remember a friend in college who gave up pistachio ice cream for lent – her least favorite ice cream, I think.

And I began to hear of Catholic friends who celebrated something called Tenebrae at church on the Thursday before good Friday, working the way to Easter.

Then there was the very fortunate discovery that, at least to the Catholics in the family I married into, Sundays were a kind of day off from the Lenten fast, as was Saint Patrick’s day. That worked out well because my son’s birthday was March 17, so my Lutheran family and Lou’s Catholic family could all enjoy birthday cake between meals at his celebration. That’s when I realized that the forty days of Lent really were forty days.

As you can see, I was a slow learner. It happened one day when I was reading the gospel lesson on the crucifixion at a women’s meeting at church that I started to cry. My son was the age of Jesus when he died on the cross. The sadness washed over me. This was real! No wimpy story of some magic that happened on those two pieces of wood crossed together at the front of the church.

Finally, when I was old enough that I should have known better for decades, I realized that Tenebrae began on Maundy Thursday. Why “Maundy?” Because that’s the day that Jesus, knowing the torture, humiliation, and death he was about to endure, gave his disciples – and us — the new commandment to “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Now I can say this next thing without censure, because the Lutheran church was wise enough to block my idea of being a minister – wrong body type (until sometime in the 60s by which time I did the church the favor of giving up on the idea.)

Maundy Thursday is the most important day in the church calendar year. The new commandment – love!

Awake at 3:30 am last night, I tried to terminate the sad thoughts of all the suffering going on in the world so I could go back to sleep. Warm chocolate almond milk and raw cashews enjoyed in my comfortable chair, distracted by reading, usually does it. This time I was reading “Sojouners” with a series of articles on Lent and my thoughts piled up on “What can I do to make this Lenten season meaningful?” Giving up something just doesn’t hack it. Just as eating everything on my plate didn’t feed the “starving people in India” when I was little. It’s not about satisfying my need for personal goodness. Do something? I’ve always been a physical coward and now my age just gives legitimacy to such avoidance.

What do I do as I enjoy my comfortable chair in my comfortable home with comfortable food available with a walk down the hall? I don’t know. Sign petitions? Donate for social justice? A drop in the bucket. Maybe that’s enough. It takes many drops to make an ocean.

I know it’s important to feel the pain, but not so much that I can’t feel the joy, or even spread it. Any suggestions?

I’m hoping …

 

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