This is one crazy Lent

This is the worst lent ever. Or is it?

My family took an extended trip to Europe several years ago. As we planned for our month-long visit, we hoped everything would work out as planned, but the one thing we knew for sure was that something was going to go wrong. Actually, several things would go wrong. Sure enough, they did. We were ready for them, though, because we knew that all the disasters and near misses would be the stories we would tell years later.

There was the rental van that we unknowingly parked in the bus lane with no way to get around us. We didn’t know until my husband left me with it and went into the apartment to get our children. As the buses pulled in behind me, I turned the key again and again only to hear the sickening “click, click” and then nothing. Sitting there with buses honking, I knew I did not have the strength to move this giant van, I didn’t speak Italian, and none of the people down the way at the train stop were coming to help me. It’s never taken my family so long to come out of an apartment. And that’s only the beginning of the story!

We got onto the wrong boat and steamed right past the island we were hoping to visit, with little money and no credit or ATM cards. How are you allowed to get on the wrong boat?!

We can tell these stories and many more now with laughter, and even at the time, we were able to enjoy some parts of the experience simply because we knew it would eventually be one of the highlights of our trip. It was a great adventure and we would do it again in a heartbeat.

This Lent, I think we need to remember that we will be telling these stories for years to come. What story do you want to tell?

I think I want to tell the one of a Lent where I understood gratitude in a new way. My daughter scored a package of toilet paper and I got a couple of dozen eggs today. It was like we had won the lottery. Who thought we would ever be so grateful for toilet paper and eggs?? But we should – that’s one of the graces that come from fasting. We can see that everything we have is a gift. We can see the wondrous ways that God provides and we can come to realize what we need and what we want.

We are being given a chance to slow down and come home. What is God giving you or asking of you in that time? Too busy to pray? Not any more. All those activities and commitments that have the family running every which way but together? Gone.

What do you suddenly have time for? Maybe there’s a project you’ve wanted to work on but haven’t been able to fit it in. Maybe there’s also time to play some games, do puzzles, or read/listen to books together. Maybe there’s even enough time to go outside and see the beauty that is literally exploding. I know my backyard is filled with flowers, birds, squirrels, and bright, bright, green leaves.

We have a few weeks until Easter. One of the signs of a good Lent is the new life we experience in our Easter celebrations. Let us pray that this Lent we see the Resurrection more clearly and more personally than we ever have before.

Need some ideas for your Lenten practices? Here are a few:

Prayer

Pray for those who are ill

Pray for those who are affected financially

Pray for those who are frightened

Pray for those who are serving and healingPray for God to show you what He

wants you to do in all of this

Pray to see the blessings and joy in the middle of all the mess

Pray to be a light to the world. When you find those blessings and joy, your faith will be a beacon.

Pray for wisdom

Fasting

From toilet paper

From events

From fear-mongering media

From panicky thoughts

From non-necessities

Almsgiving

There are so many who will not be able to weather this storm financially – give generously to charities you know support people directly.

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Businesses will be hurting – patronize the ones you can, buy gift cards from the ones you can’t.

Help those who are vulnerable – offer to run an errand for an elderly neighbor, call someone who lives alone regularly, offer your sufferings and inconveniences for those who are suffering more than you are.

Even though it may feel like we have to circle the wagons, we all have something to give. We have been given many gifts, look for them, allow yourself to be filled with gratitude, and then share them as you can.

What are some ways that you are finding joy or blessing in the middle of all of this?

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Karen May

Inspirational Catholic Writer and Speaker

based in Austin, Texas