Lent this year, and the past 3 years

Monday, March 9, 2020

We are 12 days into Lent. Normally, Christians select things to do or not do during this holy season, with the goal of growing closer to Jesus, and entering into the mystery of his passion. I remember years gone past when I was pretty good at keeping my personal promise to not drink Diet Coke (that year was miserable!), or give up chocolate, or give up wine (also difficult!).

For the past 4 years, however, I have turned my back to traditional Lenten practices. My dear son, Nick, passed away suddenly from a heart arrhythmia 4 years ago. I am sure that I will be living in a Lenten season the rest of my life, having to forcibly give up my son. Not voluntarily, but rather this heavy weight has been given me to bear. I’m living the Lenten season every day, entering into agony of the passion. Every day, not just 40 days.

If I continue to turn my back during these 40 days to welcome spring (origin of the word “Lent”), I will keep on wallowing in my grief, and miss out on experiencing the fruit of the season, alongside my fellow Christians. But, how else to live without my son? I no longer give up something for this season. Rather, I try to do something positive, such as write a letter a day to people who are special to me, or bite my tongue when it was ready to wag a snide remark. These seem more manageable. I think Nick would approve.

Feeling a bit left out in traditional circles of those giving up dessert or candy for Lent, I live my new hidden year-round season of pain, emptiness, and grief. For me, this is the new normal way to welcome spring. I hope Jesus understands.

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