“Lent snuck up on me this year,” I thought last night, while inhaling a plate of pancakes, with a side of chocolate, washed down with glass of red wine at a friend’s Mardi Gras party. I’m not sure how I didn’t see Lent coming, but I can only liken it to having an unexpected guest knock on the door – and that feeling of panic when you realize the house is a mess and the only thing in your refrigerator is a bottle of ketchup. I feel woefully ill prepared for this year’s Lenten journey. “I need to come up with a Lenten plan, fast,” I thought to myself. “How on earth will I grow spiritually over the next forty days?”
I thought back to my past Lenten promises. There were the times I semi-successfully gave things up: dessert (also known as the Lent in which I ordered more appetizers), beer (also known as the Lent in which I discovered whiskey), and perhaps most creatively, elevators (the Lent in which I lost seven pounds). Then there were the times I semi-successfully took things on: reading daily Lenten reflections, helping plan more young adult events at my Church, and reconnecting with friends who live far away. With varying degrees of effort and sacrifice, I’ve tried to approach Lent with an open heart and awareness of my flaws.
I’m entering this year’s Lenten season pretty overwhelmed, weighed down by a variety of complicated work, family, and friend-related happenings. This morning, as I waited in line to receive ashes before heading to work, I heard the familiar words, “remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The gravity of the reminder of my mortality hit me hard, and I felt those familiar overwhelming feelings come flooding back.
I stayed in the Church for a few quiet moments following mass, and my mind wandered to a place I’ve spent a lot of time – the parish center at my Church. My parish priest has one of those engraved office nameplates – the sort of ones that typically sit on the desks of those with corner offices. But, instead of featuring his name, the plate features five little words, “One Day At A Time.” I’ve always appreciated that little reminder to stop, take a breath, remember God’s presence in my life, and accept where I am. So, inspired by the nameplate’s wisdom, I will take my Lent one day at a time, following along with Busted Halo’s “Fast Pray Give” calendar.
So today, day one, I’m particularly struck by the quote from Avicii’s “Wake Me Up.” I’ve listened to the song dozens of times in my workout mix, but never really stopped to think about the lyrics until today. “Feeling my way through the darkness, guided by a beating heart, I can’t tell where the journey will end, but I know where to start.” So, beating heart in tow, I zipped up my heavy winter coat, walked out of the Church down the icy steps to the street outside, and I started.