Breaking Down and Building Up: Letting Lent Begin

Last night we celebrated Fat Tuesday with rum, dancing, incredible food, and lots of jokes (as well as serious conjectures) about the pope.  We were, after all, at our Episcopal church.  It was an exceptionally merry celebration, and I really needed it.

Beads, crayons, and King's Cake.

Beads, crayons, and King’s Cake.

This week has been rough.  Olive’s transition to preschool has not been as smooth as I would have hoped, and she is telling me, in ways big and small, how hard it is for her to be away from me three mornings a week.

Basically this means that she is finding every button I have and pushing it, over and over again, until I feel more like a broken-down robot than a human mother, and all I want is to be taken to the junk yard, to lay in pieces on the scrap heap.  I know that it is her job as a two year old to break me down a bit.  I hope that as I build myself back up, I can graft in extra pockets of patience, to be drawn upon in those “DOES NOT COMPUTE.  SYSTEM OVERRIDE” moments.

Anyway, we danced and sang out our Alleluias, as we won’t use them for another 40 days.  Also, some of us chatted about what we were or were not giving up for Lent.

Every year, I like to give something up but also take something on.  The thing I give up usually has to do with food or drink, since those are my very favorite things, and it gives me frequent chances to be reminded of my practice to wait for renewal as I go about my day.

My husband and I are giving up white flour, which means local bakeries will probably go under (sorry, guys!) since they won’t be getting the boost in their sales as we usually give them.  Also, we are adding doing something each day that helps us to focus on our marriage.

Already getting into our Lenten spirit.

Already getting into our Lenten spirit.

It is coming not a moment too soon.  Lately the two of us have been so stressed out and stretched thin that we have said to each other, “I don’t feel as connected to you as I usually do.”  So, on our Valentine’s date (yay!) this week, we’ll be writing out lists of things our partner can do if he or she needs some suggestions for a particular day.  For instance, one of mine will be “research my favorite cocktail, buy all the ingredients, and mix it up for me when I get home in the evening.”  Thank God we didn’t give up booze for Lent this year.

Today, Ash Wednesday, is a day meant for us to ponder our fragility, our vulnerability as humans, and consider how grace surrounds us all the time, keeping us here on earth for yet another day to risk and hope and love.  I don’t think I need any extra practice in focusing on my failings or my human nature, as I have been very in touch with those aspects of myself this year.  However, that makes me specially primed for the opportunity to make some space in my life for grace to get in all the cracks, all the times I’m feeling broken down, and remind me that renewal is coming.  Renewal starts now.

5 thoughts on “Breaking Down and Building Up: Letting Lent Begin

  1. Amen! I love how you also take something on during lent. Here is to the beauty of renewal, reflection, and growth.

  2. do you know this Leonard Cohen quote?

    “Ring the bells that still can ring
    Forget your perfect offering
    There is a crack in everything
    That’s how the light gets in”

    Isn’t it lovely?


  3. I’m Jewish, so I don’t celebrate Lent, but I like the idea of adding something to strengthen a marriage or other relationship.

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