Tuesday, March 4, 2014

because it's "Fat Tuesday"

Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras. 

Well, I did take a King's Cake to work today, and had a breakfast burrito instead of my usual oatmeal this morning... a little chocolate tonight after dinner, with a glass of wine. Really thrilling Fat Tuesday, right? Kinda, sorta, but not really like... 

(Credit to whomever came up with this meme... I saw it on Facebook, and have no idea where it actually originated, but it was NOT with me...) 

Point being, I'm clearly not out getting wasted this Fat Tuesday evening. That's not how I operate. I am NOT for a Fat Tuesday that, like Father said at Mass this evening, would require all of Lent to make reparation for! ;-)

Actually, I've been thinking quite a bit about Lent for the past few days. Yesterday evening, my parish started its small group sessions for a program called "Living the Eucharist," which is being promoted by our Archdiocese this year. My husband and I are leading one of the discussion groups for our parish, and last night, I shared with our group the fact that Lent has never exactly been my favorite season of the liturgical year. It's not that I have a problem with giving things up. No, that really doesn't bother me so much. I don't really mind penitence (although fasting has made me physically ill on occasion, and I have at least once - after consulting a priest - sought other ways to fast). 

Really, it's that strange things seem to happen unexpectedly during Lent sometimes, strange things that are unusually unpleasant. And it's March in New Mexico for at least part of Lent, which is never very pleasant to begin with (hellloooooo 50 mph winds!). It's easier for me to accept "obvious" penitence, perhaps, than it is for me to accept the subtle, unexpected penitence that comes with "strange" happenings, or the unpleasantness of certain times of the NM springtime? 

It's true that I don't like surprises. In past Lents, maybe God has tried to help me learn to accept the penance of unexpected unpleasantness - to learn to accept the penance that can come through surprises - instead of the penances I've "planned" for myself during Lent. 

I don't know. In any case, I've never been very good at accepting it - it usually just kind of freaks me out. (It always ends with me asking our Lord, "Why do I suck so badly at this?") 

Will Lent be that way this year, I wonder? Of course, I don't know - but I certainly hope the string of interesting little surprises over the past few weeks are no indication - as there have been recent happenings that have made me wonder if I was seeing a foreshadowing of Lent. I admit it, I rather hope not! 

The recent days have been interesting, though - even outside of those few curious little surprises. I've been praying about Lent, and honestly, with some trepidation: in part because of past experiences, and in part, because I know of some definite changes that are coming my way in the next few weeks (regardless of the fact that it will be the Lenten season), and I don't completely know what those changes will look like, how they will take shape. 

However, in prayer, I've started to feel that perhaps God has a different plan for this Lent. Over the past several days, I have come to realize how profoundly I need healing in some aspects of my life - in ways I had not considered until recently. And I've had the sense in prayer that perhaps that's at least part of what this Lent will be about. 

I don't know exactly how our Lord intends to accomplish this - nor do I know if this "sense" I have had will be correct - but at the very least, right now, I am at peace. The words of this evening's Mass touched me deeply, beginning with the entrance antiphon: "The Lord became my protector. He brought me out to a place of freedom; he saved me because he delighted in me." 

I want so much to hide beneath the shadow of God's wings - not to hide from trials or penitence, but to seek His protection and healing there, to learn to sing a "new song" - the way Audrey Assad sings, "My ears are worn and weary strangers, in a strange land, and I need a new song... And all I am is breath, and vapor, and shadow, and all I have is what I need - this I know - that I need a new song... waiting in the night for You, burning in the sky for You... There's an aching in my body, within my lungs - I swear, this web of bones around my heart is coming undone, 'cause I need a new song, I need a new song..." - to enter more completely into the incredible mystery of love and suffering, and there, to truly learn to live. 

That would be millions of times more satisfying than my Fat Tuesday breakfast burrito. 

Lord, help me to love and seek you more deeply through this Lent.

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