I have never liked Lent. Where I come from, it’s a season of mountains of dirty snow obscuring every intersection, making just crossing a street a death-defying drama.
Even getting on or off a city bus was fraught, as the stops were usually at corners where clogged storm drains filled with slushy water, daring the bus rider to either plunge a booted foot into the abyss (hoping to land on anything solid and supportive), or to launch herself beyond the icy stew to the steps of the bus, if boarding, or to the hill of scuzzy snow if disembarking.
Add to all that trouble was the required “sacrifices” of no candy and no desserts for 40 days: Tell me, what’s to like?
Well, you might say, not every liturgical season has to be likable. Let’s settle for meaningful. From little up, I understood about the Way of the Cross (also mandatory on Friday afternoons; all the school children in heavy coats and wet wool scarves, hats, mittens, in the pews in our church, genuflecting repeatedly—Catholic calisthenics, some call that—recalling and honoring all that Jesus suffered for us.
I can’t remember if any of our Sisters told us to offer our chapped lips, windburned faces, raw wrists and shins in union with Jesus’ agony.
Maybe that would have made a good religion class, especially if she encouraged us to unite our suffering with His for some special intention.
Maybe I can’t remember because that lesson has sunk too deeply into my psyche to be dredged up at will. I still do believe in “offering it up”—as much my mother’s instruction as any religion teacher’s—and offering it for particular intentions—take your pick, they are myriad in our world, and offering gives our small and larger pains some positive purpose—or so I hope.
Well, clearly, Lent is no fun, but I guess it’s useful to put the sad and sore and negative in our lives to some hopeful, positive use before God. At least, that’s my hope. And spring and Easter are only a few weeks away!