Lent is quickly coming upon us. I used to think about what I could give up for Lent in terms of how long I could bear to be without chocolate, or television, or going to my favorite fast-food drive-through. As I’ve gotten older, my understanding of what it means to “give something up” has become more nuanced. I now understand a bit better that giving up something for Lent is more of an exercise in giving up the things of this world in preparation for the next.
I have had the experience of watching several loved ones get older and eventually die. Over time they gave up belongings and activities that they once loved dearly as they prepared themselves for the next life.
My mother set many such examples for me in her own life. I very fondly remember one in particular. My mother worked as a public school teacher for 30 years. When she retired, she started watching the TV soap operas that she had never been able to enjoy when she was working. She would call me up to discuss the latest happenings on General Hospital or One Life to Live and I really loved discussing the plot points and events with her. It became one of our things to do together, and I really looked forward to it.
Eventually, we had to move Mom into a nursing home with hospice care. Once she was settled in, I noted that her room had the capability of television cable hook up, but no TV! At my request, my sweet husband went out to the storage area where we kept Mom’s things and got her television. Then he dutifully hooked it up to the TV cable and gave mom the remote so that she could watch her television programs.
But as the days went by, I noticed that Mom wasn’t watching much of anything. She was mostly sleeping. I remember saying to her, “Mom, we have your TV hooked up. You can watch your shows. Why don’t you watch your soaps any more?”
Mom roused herself, got that familiar twinkle back in her eye and quipped, “Well I guess I’m not as addicted to them as you are!”
I hadn’t expected that answer!
The truth was that Mom was physically, mentally and spiritually willing and able to let things like that slide out of her life as she got ready to die and enter her new life.
This Lent, 10 years after Mom’s death, I’ll try to remember her example as I choose things to eliminate during Lent that physically, mentally, and spiritually are draining my focus on preparing for my own eventual death and new life in Christ. And I’ll also be grateful to Mom for her example.
Copyright 2020 Elena LaVictoire