Thursday, February 18, 2010


My grand vision for Lent lasted about 8 hours, 5 minutes.

Technically it began to unravel an hour and a half before that.

The short explanation - I overslept, the dishwasher went belly-up, and Ainsley fell and bumped her head. I had plans for a quiet, private prayer time followed by a quiet, family prayer time and concluding with a peaceful breakfast and drive to school. What I got was the usual morning mayhem accompanied by a major meltdown (mine).

At my women’s prayer group the other day, my friend Amy and I were discussing our desire for a good Lent, a fruitful Lent. It’s been a few years since I’ve entered this season with much of a vision. For two of the last three Lenten seasons, I have been battling the tail-end of morning sickness. I haven’t given up a thing, nor have I taken on much. Early pregnancy for me is all the penance I can handle. Some days just putting one foot in front of the other seems a herculean feat. I remember lying in a semi-fetal position staring at a pile of laundry and saying, “In ten minutes I’ll fold it. In ten minutes I’ll fold it.”

This year I am well and – as far as I know – not pregnant. I have been looking forward to a season of prayer and fasting.

Since Advent I have been dwelling on the excesses in my life – the excessive stuff, the excessive pounds, the excessive indulgences, the excessive temper tantrums (once again, mine).

On every front, I am more than ready to pare down.

I am taking on Danielle Bean’s “Forty Bags for Forty Days,” because in a physical sense I want to unload. But more than that, I am in desperate need of a spiritual unload. My prayer life has been spotty, to say the least. Now more than ever, I thirst for time alone with God. I thirst for the sacraments. I want to be nourished by the body and blood of Christ.

Despite 12 years of marriage and children, I still picture a quiet, prayerful, simple Lent. Daily Mass and Stations of the Cross. Time set aside for meditation. You know, maybe a subtle hint of incense wafting through the house. Needless to say, in this stage of my life, this vision just ain’t meshing with reality.

A while back a friend of mine shared a word of wisdom: Let your effort be your goal. Rather than pursuing a lengthy check list of devotions, strive instead to do, as Mother Teresa used to say, “small things with great love.”

This version of the perfect Lent, a Lent of modest prayer and peaceful relationships, would all be quite doable and fruitful if it weren’t for one pesky, persistent obstacle – me. This is a season in which I need to take seriously the Psalmist’s admonition “to rend your hearts and not your garments.”

I need to set aside my vision and simply love – God, my family, my neighbor. This is one area that can’t lead to excess, that requires no paring down.


Amy Parris said...

It's so hard to readjust expectations when you've been blessed with the kind of single lives we got to lead. Summers with the MC's, daily mass, Holy Hours and the like. God has had to tell me over and over again that I was not called to be an MC, therefore, I cannot live like one. God understands this much better than we do.

I pray that you have a blessed Lent, whatever way it turns out:)

Kelly said...

Amen. Thanks for all your encouragement.