Confession: I have not observed Lent this year. I thought (briefly) of what to give up or add for the season, but other things claimed my attention and the opportunity passed me by. I have no intention of attending any services this Holy Week other than Easter Sunday, and I even considered skipping out on that one, too.
Before you start thinking I am a terrible person, let me also tell you this: spring break is this week, and I will not be visiting any beaches or even working on my tan in the back yard. I will not seek out amusement parks, and I likely won’t be sleeping in much, either.
Somehow, I’ve found Lent this year to be much more challenging than usual. Sacraments are physical symbols of spiritual realities, and even though parenthood is not a true Sacrament, it, too, is a physical catalyst for spiritual change. Some parts of conception and birth change you immediately — caring for one so helpless and dependent grabs and pulls you onto a different plane of existence. But other changes come more slowly, painfully, one drudging footstep at a time.
Believe me, sleeplessness is the crucible for the refining of character, and it only takes one night of being up every two hours with a cranky baby to lift the curtain for your spouse and everyone else to see selfishness, irritability, impatience, and even rage! I don’t like to think of myself that way, but this truth pierces my heart. I’ve found quick midnight prayers for selflessness, patience, and sweet kindness help chip away those clingy fragments of old self.
Yet new ones keep resurfacing. Which is why I am here making laundry soap on my spring break instead of attending church during Holy Week or reading a novel on the beach. I am giving in, releasing myself, to this cleansing that must and should continue. This time with my little one is sweet to the taste. There are bitter notes to it, too, but I am learning to embrace them, to receive the grace to do so, to rest in the dark, quiet space of Lent while the sunlight fingers of Easter dawn around me. This is where I belong.