Talking back to Lent: Time for a new model
Lent – one of the scariest words. It’s filled with dread, repentance, darkness and tradition.
It is the daunting season between winter and spring. Not sure of what is to yet to come.
Lent means the absence of something. To give up, to be deprived. Ironic because it falls in the beginning of spring. When the outside world is begging you to look, to touch. To be enticed in smells and colors.
The world of lent is dark and empty. Memories of fourth grade flash through my mind. Filled with extra homework, dry toast and hours in a cavernous church. Teachers trying to hush us, while their heels echoed off the mosaic floor. The last thing we wanted was to stay still, but it was better than math class.
Lent means rules and recitations. The church lost all its beauty at this time. I love the rituals and routines. I have always fought the authority.
In this current era, the church should be reaching out to us, all of us. Especially young mothers. Lent, this is your time to ask for our forgiveness. You can no longer ask us to follow blindly. Being a Catholic in Buffalo is who I am, who I would like my children to be.
The idea to give something up instead of celebrating all the newness rising from under the snow seems ridiculous then and even more so now.
Should I take this time between seasons to believe a little more? To be kinder? Maybe.
Restrictions and directions only push me away. Lent, you need a girl like me. One who believes, can see both sides. A girl who is strong and persuasive. I can get others to follow your footsteps. Being a Catholic girl has its drawbacks. The expectation to give up more than the boys, and take care of others without eating meat, makes me hungry in more ways than I can count.
There is a solemn beauty to Lent. The outward markings that bring a community together. Start conversations and lead to plans for spring. For growth in our faith.
The ashes are the most symbolic of the Lent. The one tradition I still hold on to. They remind me that I am grounded. While the growing sun reminds me that I know how to fly.
So dearest Lent:
Look in the mirror. Maybe you aren’t so scary. More misunderstood. Your mission long ago was to scare people into darkness. I get it. How else do you appreciate the light without the darkness?
The time has come to adapt your mission. Scary doesn’t work. You should try to be more gentle and less authoritarian. A new outlook, something sleek and modern. I mean why else would you give us paczki and daffodils? The beauty is in the rebirth, not the removal.
This year I am not giving up anything. I will give in to taking care of myself so I can take care of others. Eating healthy with the exception of a fish fry. To spring clean my mind and let you in.
I hope I am not alone in this crusade.
There are others who would be willing to carry on, at least here in our town. Where being part of something is always recognized when we leave.
Lent: This is the season I think we both can grow from. And if not, one of us still gets chocolate in the end.
The time has come to adapt your mission. Scary doesn’t work. You should try to be more gentle.