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April 1, 2021

Appreciating the Tension of Lent

How was your Lent? Mine was weird.

In some ways it felt like last year’s Lent never ended. I mean, I have good memories of experiencing my first ever Easter vigil (virtually) and the delight my kids launched into when we could finally say the A-word again. And I remember an epic Easter egg hunt for them the next morning.

I know that the year went on and things looked up. We had a baby! Good things happened. We saw family and friends more often. Kids went back to school.

But over the last year there has still been, often enough, a tension that hangs over us. A challenge. Life not feeling complete or as we think it should be. The tension that comes to the fore during Lent.

Thanks to the pandemic, little surprises me anymore. At the start of this Lent, I was pretty sure any unexpected development wouldn’t hold a candle to how disruptive and unreal things were this time a year ago. In that way, it felt like Lent hadn’t really ended.

Lenten Disciplines . . .

I gave up some stuff this year, but my goal was different than it’s been in the past. I wasn’t giving stuff up to prove my love for God. Rather, I was recalibrating myself from some default habits that had gotten out of whack. Dessert more and more often. Flipping the TV on in the evening to zone out for a while. Justifying little rewards throughout the day—every day, and usually food—for making it through what is simply the life I’m called to.

None of these things is bad in itself. But the way I was using them was. So this Lent was about finding moderation, and more importantly about resetting my defaults. 

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:4-9

. . . Become All-Year Disciplines . . .

Near the end of Lent, I watched “The Perfection of Imperfection” by Doug Tooke, who is part of ODB Films, the creative team behind “Paul the Apostle of Christ,” and the mastermind behind the TED-style OSV Talks.

The “healthy striving” he talks about describes Lent really well. It’s not just trying to white-knuckle through some depravation to prove my love and commitment. It’s drawing closer into relationship with the Lord who loves me.

There will be mimosas and chocolate on Easter this year, but I’m not planning to let loose once the Octave or even the season is complete. These new habits I’m still forming are not something I want undone.

Rather, I’m going to rejoice in Jesus saving me from sin, in calling me back to Himself when I mess up, in the being the constant in a world that is not what I expected to be raising my children in.

. . . So That I Can Be a “Polaroid”

As Tooke puts it, I’m striving to be “a candid polaroid in a photoshop world.” No matter what the world looks like, this feels closest to what God wants of me—closest to what I was created to be.

Heads up: OSV Talks are a series of topics from prominent Catholic leaders to spark discussion, explore new or re-explore old approaches, and inspire creative thinking, all from the heart of the Church.

Have you seen this one or “Liturgical Orphans” by Deacon Charlie Echeverry? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and how your Lent went in the comments.

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