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We are now a week into Lent. In a conversation with my friend, I realized just how much I love times of the year like Lent and Advent. The church knew what they were doing when they decided that we needed to stretch out our holidays a little bit longer. We don’t have eight days of Hanukkah, but I do not feel like I am missing out.  We have an entire four weeks of Advent, and forty some odd days of Lent—a pretty good trade if you ask me.

I find that Lent leading up to Easter is a reminder that spring is coming (as much as our bipolar weather of Candidates’ Weekend tries to argue that it is not).  Just as the world prepares for the arrival of spring, we prepare for Easter.

Lent is a change of pace. I like having the added preparation. I know that a holiday is coming, but it is not the type of holiday that begs for a countdown on my calendar. Lent does it for me, in a much calmer way. It’s like we know that Easter is coming eventually, but there’s no rush.  We get to bask in this faithful time of Lent until we get there.

I’m better at going to Mass every week, and just trying to maintain a bit more faith than usual. Lent starts and ends with church. And I go to church a few extra days. Another great thing about Lent? It starts on a Wednesday.  Almost nothing ever starts on a Wednesday, but we give that day of the week just a little bit of extra love.

And the end of Lent is just as wonderful being a Sunday.  It’s a Sunday, but I’m not rushing to do homework or running around trying to prepare myself for the week. I have the time to get together with family, go to church and (if I’m honest) have the added bonus of the next day without class and a chocolate Easter bunny-induced sugar coma.

I feel that Lent is a reminder that there are things in life that are more important than acing every test, being on time for every meeting or cramming my days full of activities. It forces us to slow down and refocus on the important things. It makes me pick a beneficial goal to stick to.  Now, that is not just because I choose to give up sweets some years, though I love hearing about what people do for Lent.

Also enjoyable: thinking about the most extreme things that I could try but know I wouldn’t last doing for more than a day. (Arguably the most extreme example being the Pope’s recent decision to, I hear people joke, give up being Pope for Lent…and the rest of his life after…) I still wish I could give up homework or taking tests or eating vegetables or going to class on those days that I just want to sleep in. Of course, I know that I cannot do this because Lent is supposed to be a challenge amongst other things.

So I think to myself what the real challenges would be for me—giving up my iPhone, keeping my room clean every day, not wearing sweatpants unless it is to sleep or work out in or giving up Girl Scout cookies. But the thing is, none of these things are going to happen for me or my lifestyle.

I am all for challenging myself this Lenten season, but I do not want to set myself up for failure. Okay, so that last one on the list might be very doable, but it’s also important to choose something that you want to do for your own gain and giving up something delicious is not beneficial to me at this time. What can I say?

But I digress. I think that I need to challenge myself, but not make it so challenging that I don’t want to get back on the horse if I happen to fall off of it. That’s part of the beauty of Lent, though. It’s sort of like making a New Year’s Resolution, except making a promise for Lent is more achievable. There are things to remind you to keep up your Lenten promise, even the fact that more people talk about it (at least at a Catholic university such as ours). It will be so much more rewarding to keep up your goal.

Lent acts as a reminder to us that there are bigger things coming, and making a commitment to do (or not do) something is a way to prepare for that.  Goals that you make, and stick to, have the potential to change your life. Lent could be the start of that.

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