We are having true winter in the Mid-Atlantic, with frigid temps and white stuff falling from the sky. I have welcomed the snow as it comes down and have even gotten to go sledding, more than once!
I have been distracted by the snow tumbling from the sky and lingering on the ground. It has been a delightful surprise this covid winter. The world looks so fresh with a thick coating of icing on it.
What has also caught me by surprise this year is the beginning of Lent, which astonishingly starts tomorrow with Ash Wednesday.
How can this be?
Aren’t we still experiencing Last Year’s lent?
Many of my family members feel the same way, like this has been the Lent that never ends (yes, it goes on and on my friends). Ben even thought we ought to name it Blent, short for Big Lent.
Bearing in mind all of the things that my family has been giving up for nearly a year, I think a change in our traditional observance is in order.
Normally we take fairly seriously the challenge to take on extra penance during this time. The Christmas Holidays have been celebrated and we have indulged ourselves and celebrated heartily. Usually Lent helps us get back on track spiritually and physically after the excess of December and January parties.
Not this year.
Our holiday celebrations were muted by covid restrictions and the cold weather (one can only visit in 20 degree weather for so long.) I do not have that lazy, sluggish feeling I normally get at this point in the calendar year. Instead, I am plagued by the feeling that things will never return to normal. Though we have not been devastated by the events of 2020, we have racked up an emotional deficit. The idea of participating in a penitential season is nearly unthinkable…
unless we change the focus.
I have been praying about this for over a week and I think that my focus this Lent needs to be on kindness. For this season’s great discipline I am going to practice being kind, first and foremost to myself.
Every morning after my prayers I am going to ask this question: “What am I going to do today to take care of myself?”
It may seem self absorbed or selfish even to make self care a focus of a Lenten observance. But if you have been living an isolated life like I have for the past year, it is long overdue.
I have been longing for simple things, like an indoor family meal or a hug from an adult child or grandchild for so long now. There is an emotional price that we have been paying to keep others safe. I know that the vaccine will be accessible soon, but when, really, May or June? The snow is still on the ground today in February.
For Lent 2021 at our house we are going to practice the discipline of kindness. I do think we will pray more together, but we will also take some long walks in the woods, sit by the fire and read good books and cultivate kindness to ourselves and those around us.
I have no guilt about this approach. I think it is just what Jesus, The Good Doctor, has ordered.