Monday, March 7, 2011

Longing for Lent

Lent is a forty day period (minus Sundays) from Ash Wednesday until Easter.  I used to dread the thought of Lent.  I hated giving up meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays.  I hated coming up with something to give up.  I felt like bad things came during this time.  Easter would magically make things better.

Now, I have a whole new view of Lent.  I actually have a little longing for it to arrive.  It's like needing to clean out that closet that is crammed with all sorts of stuff and ready to overflow.  You can't really organize your house because there is no room to put things away.  You can't even remember what you've stashed in that closet. 

When you live with an addict, you learn that you only have control over your own actions.  You need to understand why you act the way you do.  What motivates that action?  Have I made an inventory of my sins/shortcomings?  Have I been willing to make the necessary changes?  Have I tried to make amends for them? 

To me, doing these things, feels a lot like lent.  AA and Al Anon teach us to make these steps a matter of practice.  The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius also recommend a daily (twice) examen.  It becomes a matter of practice.  It feels better after you've "cleaned up" the messes of your life.  Doing this daily, is like balancing the checkbook on time. 

I think this is why I long for Lent.  I get this extra time to really examine myself.  I get extra time to strip away distractions.  I get extra time with God.  This desert is a place to be alone and contemplate.  I look forward to this season.  It's the only way to really clean house. 

Today I pray for a fruitful lent for all of you.  I pray for the addict/alcoholics of our lives.  I pray that we all begin to long for the joy of removing all our barriers to Christ.  And, I pray for Henry.

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