Do you remember about thirty days ago? When people all over were sharing what they were giving up, what they were adding, and how they were observing Lent this year? I was one of them, though my plans certainly looked pretty modest and insignificant compared to many.
No sooner had people shared their ideas and sacrifices than others scoffed in response. “How bold and pretentious! TRUE Christians wouldn’t feel the need to BROADCAST what all they were giving up for Lent. That’s just tacky.”
Because, you know, it’s not tacky at all to snap-judge someone’s motivation and intent.
Anywho, I digress.
I set out this Lent with the sole intention of handling it all quietly and mindfully. I did nothing– absolutely NOTHING– particularly grand or wonderful.
I’ve been reading and following a Lenten devotional.
I say the rosary at least once a week.
My kids asked to add at least one weekday morning Mass each week and I’ve made sure to get us all there.
My kids also asked if they could do chores to earn some coins to buy food for Loaves & Fishes.
We’ve made plans and commitments for observing Holy Week, as well.
But it’s nothing overwhelming or intense, to be honest. Not one thing we’ve added has been a true test of willpower. Not one thing has been all-consuming.
And I’m so glad.
Because, in the midst of Lent, illness struck. First, a minor stomach bug that swept the family. Next, a run-in with pink eye. Most recently, a horrific stomach virus that brought with it a 104+ degree fever.
All of a sudden, our “Gentle Lent” became not just pleasant, but also instrumental. We really didn’t need to miss a beat in our plan, because our plan was designed to add depth and richness without a whole lot of obligations.
Would anyone have blamed me if I’d needed to abandon a Lenten promise in order to care for a very ill four-year-old? Likely not. But I would have crumbled from the weight of failure. I don’t do failure well. Few of us do.
Instead, I turned to my increased prayer and devotionals. I fit in some extra Mass whenever time allowed. I gave our older children little tasks that helped them feel productive while they worried over their little sister.
This Gentle Lent is just exactly as it should be for us.
Are you doing anything special for Lent this year? How’s it working for you?