Lent always looks a little bit different; every year there’s something new.
Each Ash Wednesday though, starts with the same feeling. I wake up, and suddenly I’m standing at the edge of the desert, everything in front of me is bright with potential. There on the sand is a future full of hope and holiness. I’m like Jerome when he first steps out into the footsteps of St. Anthony ~ I will be good here.
Of course, like Jerome, the desert always gives me a harsh reminder: deserts don’t make saints. Goodness isn’t something you can build through overwhelming intentions and will power. It’s a long, slow process. Each Lent [hopefully] brings us a little closer; but each Lent also shatters a few more illusions. Jerome learned that the desert wasn’t his path to sainthood, and I ~ well, time will tell what this Lent can teach me.
“The most painful state of being is remembering the future,
particularly the one you’ll never have.” (Soren Kierkegaard)
Every year on Ash Wednesday, my Lent is the beginning of that lovely future ~ the one I’ll (probably) never have, but can still hope for. The one constructed on dreams and ideals alone. But this year, Lent is a little different. This Ash Wednesday I’m still grieving for all the other futures I’ll never have: the normalcy and sense of continuity that used to nurture the Lenten season that was stripped away last year.
This year I’m still curled inward ~ waiting. What will be taken from us next?
It doesn’t change my fasts, of course. It’s never a good idea to abandon fasting just because life is challenging. We start Lent as we always do, with ashes and a memento mori. Fasting, praying, and trying to lighten the burdens of those around us. Hopefully, with God’s Grace, this Lent will continue in penance and joyful hope.
What are your Lenten devotions this year, friends? I’d love to know!