When I think of pale yellow daffodils with deep golden centers the first thought that pops into my head is Easter and spring time. The second thought is Lent. Today is Easter and Lent has come to a close.
My Lenten plan was to go to church every Sunday and to be kind to everyone—no matter what. Well, I didn’t quite make it, but I did my best. Lent is the forty-day-long liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter. I definitely don’t engage in the fasting part, as anyone who knows me will tell you I’m not nice when I’m deprived of “my” food. So, I continue to eat my three healthy meals a day with a half meal as a snack, and it works like a charm.
When I think of the meaning of Lent, I can’t help but slip into my many memories of vowing to God I will not eat chocolate, sugar, and flour for forty days and forty nights. Back in the days, on Ash Wednesday, I would sit in the pew, teeth clenched, with the promise to never ever binge on sugary, chocolaty foods starting day one of Lent. I promised—only to fall a few short days into my penance.
This morning with church jam packed from one end to the other, I was without a seat, pressed against the side wall with an opportunity to observe everyone. As I looked around the church, watching all those sitting comfy in their pew, I let my mind wander, while a priest I didn’t know went on talking about how great it was to see the church full, and at the same time I scanned the room assessing and guessing what each person gave up for lent and questioned if they were relieved that today they can indulge once again, or if they made it as far as they intended on Ash Wednesday.
Then my mind reverted back to myself—hmmm—I guess I could yell at someone today. Not. I can’t miss the point and move in the wrong spiritual direction of where I strive to be. As my mind continued to wander and wonder which of these folks gave up alcohol, or maybe drugs, sex…or some behavior or thought they were agonizing over. I used to give up this, that, or the other, and made it for just a few days before succumbing to my addiction: food.
As far back as a small child I gave up candy for Lent. And even then I couldn’t string but a few days together before diving into some gooey treat. If mom didn’t catch me then my conscience did. I always felt God watched and one day He would punish me for will power deficit. But, today I know my God of understanding is filled with love and that will power has nothing to do with addiction and that abstinence for me was (and is) the resolution. Today, I left church snug, with my conscience in tact, and feeling all the glory of Easter.
It is evident to me that I have come a very long way from those many Lenten seasons of the past. I made my way back to my car smiling and nodding at others and they responded in kind—I pondered to myself on how warm and loving their eyes were and at the extra gaze they so generously gave. I think I’ll continue practicing kindness and love.
Photo by: Dr. Lisa Ortigara Crego