Late one night as I rode with my friend and our children to and from a basketball game, we talked. And talked. And talked.
Surprisingly it was a quiet ride. Very conducive to talking and sharing with a friend. Chelsea and her little friend kept the baby happy with cookies, a water bottle, and a furry bear toy. The older ones were plugged into their Ipods.
One of the things we discussed was Lent. What were we doing? How was it going? What could we do better? Why were we doing what we were doing? Well, that was my end of the conversation and most of it, I will admit, was my “ideal” of Lent. I was honest with my friend over my failings and discouragement. She was sympathetic and understanding.
Then I turned the table and asked her to lay-out her Lenten intents. She paused, then smiled and meekly answered. “I don’t have any.” This was the family who had offered up Masses and rosaries and sweets and many, many prayers for all their friends during Advent. I remembered that our special day of prayer and remembrance was marked December 13th on our Christmas card. The feast of St. Lucy. I remember that because even their youngest, little Lucy, offered up a sign of the cross before the Nativity for all the Gibsons. We all thought that was just too precious.
My friend went on to explain how much she loved going to daily Mass and saying the rosary at church with her oldest daughter during Advent. “I could go to church every single day,” she confided to me. “I love going to Mass. But I realized this Lent that I simply cannot take on another thing. I’m doing all I can. I have to trust that I am and that that is enough. One day I’ll be able to go to daily Mass and pray the rosary without interruptions or racing home to get breakfast for five children and start lessons. That time isn’t now. This Lent I’m trying to worry less, complain less…just do less. I’ve prayed about it and I don’t think God wants me to take on any more.”
This conversation gave me much food for thought.
Doing less for Lent. Not taking on anything more. Not worrying about extra prayers. Not doing extra penance. Not subjecting the family to another out-of-the-house activity even if it is some “good” like the Stations of the Cross. Not attempting to deny children their afternoon snacks. Not even worrying about the family code of no eating out when you find yourself in a town on a cold, rainy night hours from home.
I had already told myself that I was going to take it a easy this Lent. As regards to penance, that is. I had to. The start of Lent made me focus onkeeping everyone healthy this Lent. There was enough sacrifice and extra work there for two Lents. Stations of Cross with tea candles around the sitting room table, spiritual reading each night, no meat on Fridays, and no eating out. Very simple. Each of the children chose their own simple Lenten offerings as well: no eating meat through Lent, an extra decade of the rosary at night, and two giving up all colas.
But taking it easy was far different from doing nothing at all. That was a different perspective for me. I was mulling it over when, only a few days later, my friend Kathryn Muldrink posted this thought-provoking post: Can a Mother Observe Lent?
We have a busy next couple of days. I’ll leave you with her thoughts…and your own.
Prayers for a peace-filled Lent.
Copyright 2013 Cay Gibson