Talk­ing back to Lent: Time for a new model

The Buffalo News - - OPINION - Laura ManciniKuwik, of Buf­falo, plans to eat healthy dur­ing Lent, ex­cept for fish fries.

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.

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