Why Is It Snowing In The Desert?

22104222Well, some days are better than others. I’ve been lucky so far that many of the Busted Halo Lenten challenges have aligned very closely with certain aspects of my life. This past week was a bit more of a struggle.

Thursday in New York was one of those awful wintery days that just makes you want to crawl back under the covers in the morning. I crammed myself into a sweaty, crowded subway car that was especially slow-moving because of the weather, and trekked through Times Square to my office, accompanied by the sleeting sideways rain that rendered my umbrella useless. A few things came up at work that kept me there late, and I grumpily made my way back to my apartment at the end of the day, exhausted.

So when I finally got home that night, I looked up the day’s challenges that I missed, you know, just to see if any were retroactively applicable. I wasn’t so lucky. First, “fast from planning or daydreaming about your next vacation given that some people won’t have one this year.” I thought about the number of flight searches I conducted during lunch that afternoon, comparing itineraries for a hopeful trip to Mexico. Oops.

Second, “pray for those who work more than one job and still struggle to survive.” I thought about the freelance work I had recently turned down to have more time on my hands, and felt guilty about having an abundance of work, while so many have none.

Lastly, “give a pleasant greeting or thank you to everyone today, especially to those workers who are invisible to others.” I thought about the housekeeper that comes around the office every evening at 5pm, and my short, mumbled “thank you” when she entered my trash can. I could have taken the time to engage, asked her about her day, and learned something about her life. Instead, I was glued to my computer screen, scrambling to meet a deadline so I could head home.

During Lent, we hear about going into the desert, which we understand to be a time of dryness, reflection, and penance. This week in my Lenten desert, there’s a whole lot of snow and sideways rain clouding my vision. I thought about the Anne Lamott quote from the week before, “Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness, and the discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.” This week, I noticed a lot of the mess, but as the days begin to get longer after this marathon winter,  I’m hopeful the light will return.