On the Sunday before the start of Lent, Bonnie and I are up before the sun to make pepperoni rolls for the Souperbowl luncheon at our church. We share this meal every year at this time—soup and sandwiches—and collect donations for the local food pantry. The day before, I forgot I had volunteered to make pepperoni rolls. So, there we are, kneading dough at six a.m. I try to rest on the couch as I wait for the dough to rise, but it’s no good. So I sit and watch through the window as dawn spreads her cloak over the meadow. The frilled tips of the grasses are laced with frost and when the sun hits them, they turn to gossamer—drops of light flashing up the brown of winter.
On Saturday, we celebrated with friends the coming of Fat Tuesday. We at shrimp creole and drank hurricanes and listened to Cajun music. On Sunday morning I think about this tradition of reveling before the forty day fast. This Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, our church will host a pancake supper. It’s a similar tradition—get rid of the rich foods in the house before Lent begins. It seems a strange beginning.
I think I understand why the Orthodox Church calls the season of Lent the Bright Sadness. Celebration and mourning take turns to stir deep places, and eyes are opened to the truth that we cannot follow Christ and remain unchanged.
During Lent I want to burrow away—hide in books and words and prayer. But I know on this journey I cannot do it alone. I need sisters and brothers, to clasp their hands tight and enter into this with strong arms holding me. For… am I not the one who—after waving palm fronds in exultation—will so quickly turn in anger? Am I not the one who will deny and betray the Lover of My Soul? John Wesley said, “Holy solitaries’ is a phrase no more consistent with the Gospel than holy adulterers. The Gospel of Christ knows no religion but social; no holiness, but social holiness.”
I sit and watch the sun lift herself up over my neighbor’s house and I feel the weight of those words.
Christmas still feels fresh off the table and I’m not sure I’m ready for the bright sadness just yet. Every year it is the same, Lent surprises with her timely arrival. I think this is the nature of the season. This gentle resistance in my spirit reminds me to notice life, to be very deliberate as I step through the days.
Today, I’d love to hear about how you prepare your heart for the Lenten season. Will you share in the comments any special traditions or rituals you keep? Thanks, dear ones. Wesley also said that he liked to set himself on fire so others would come to watch him burn. A flame spreads. Stand close to the fire. Let’s kindle together through this bright sadness.
Every Monday I share one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find God and know joy. Click on the button below to add your link. I try to visit a few of your stories every week, so if you are a new visitor, be sure to let me know in the comments so I can welcome you. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us.