Yesterday marked the beginning of Holy Week, the last week of Lent as we prepare for Christ’s death and his ultimate resurrection. I was really, really bummed that the snow had canceled all services including Sunday school because I have fond memories of Palm Sunday at my grade school church in Cincinnati. The priest would invite everyone to process into the church with him carrying palms, just like it is written in the Bible. (John 12:13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”) That sense of tradition, of community, was really awesome to me. And so this Holy Week has started off completely different, with me in a cranky mood over the late arrival of spring among other things, and the growing anxiety over important news that will arrive later in the week. I ask myself today: what have I done to prepare, to observe Lent this year, that will reassure me of the coming of Easter Sunday, no matter the circumstances in my own personal life?…
Well first there is abstinence. Whether truly wanting to or not, I have not had Starbucks, or any coffee treat for that matter, since mid-February. It’s funny because I have WANTED to want it; I miss the pleasure I get from having it. But yet even today, I know my body does not need it as much as it needs other nourishment right now. I am trying to wrap my brain around the idea of missing wanting something, and the only thing I can think of is that it was part of my identity, my routine. But, Starbucks is not who I am; it is something that I relate to comfort and free time and yes on some days total gluttony. Do I really need a latte everyday??
Second there is prayer. I have found myself meditating and praying quite often these days, to the point where I would say it is starting to become part of who I am..I find when I do not make time or forget to do so, there is something missing. There is an edge to my emotions that cannot be quickly forgotten or replaced with another “treat” whether that be Starbucks or some other distraction. There is no replacement for meditation and prayer.
And finally there is penance, the most challenging of all Lenten practices. While I have not formally been to confession in a long, long time, I realize that everyday is an opportunity to practice penance. Whether it is through volunteering your time to help others, forgiving someone or asking for forgiveness, or admitting to yourself or someone you love of something you are not proud of, that is penance. I feel like I have just begun to appreciate the idea of penance in my own life, and realize that at times you may not truly be living if you’re not practicing penance. It is such an honest, humble, and pride-less way to be. God knows it is hard so that’s why I call it practice.
Tomorrow is Good Friday and for as long as I can remember, wherever I have lived and no matter the weather report, Good Friday turns out to be a solemn, grey, rainy day. My prayer for the close of this week is to remember that I have done all I can do leading up to this point, and the rest is in God’s hands. See you all on Easter Sunday.