Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Our Lenten Season - my personal thoughts...

Our Lenten Season...

... my personal thoughts

Truly the Lenten season crept up extra early this year. It lasts a mere forty days, not including Sundays, and Easter Saturday.

Forty days! That’s it!

It is but a blip in reality when one ponders the actual short time span within any given liturgical or regular calendar year.

Even with the best plans prepared ahead of time, we have to ask ourselves how come there are so many distractions falling upon families during this Lenten time of prayer, sacrifice, and fasting, when we slowly begin taking step after step while walking up the road, eventually rounding a bend or two, and hiking straight up higher and higher, while feebly attempting to accompany Jesus along his way of the cross towards Calvary? I know the answer, do you?

In our home, before this year's Lenten season approached, as per our usual we held a few pep talks to prepare ourselves for a time of spiritual renewal. Each family member took stock and held their own spiritual reflection, thinking what types of extra sacrifices they would desire to volunteer of themselves (or perhaps kept them in their heart, a secret of their very own), and become acquainted with intended and specific preparations to meet Jesus in the wilderness - on purpose.

Perhaps our Lenten walk was not meant to remain within our control this year, perhaps falling apart at times and actually unfolding in unrecognized ways, altering our course, and making it different than our very best predetermined ideals. May I ask, are really any two years the very same in the end for a large family? Not likely…but we try.

Perhaps all of our carefully planned calendar Lenten days, and crafty visual liturgical items were not intended to necessarily be followed precisely, as per our initial goals for delivering each item exactly on schedule.

Perhaps our family was to journey down an unknown path this year, one where we would fall to our knees coping the best way we could.

Perhaps God only wishes for us to do our best within our very own circumstances, becoming a more humble and meek servant, and that is all.

  • Who would have thought our Lent would involve my husband’s medical ordeal, still recovering from a serious bout of pneumonia and subsequent terrible reaction to his prescribed medication, not once, but twice!

  • Who would have thought our son (and grandchildren) would be speckled with red dots, dreaded chicken pox, and a terrible case of it consisting of pox in the eyelashes, nose, mouth, ears and all places unimaginable. His head was loaded, and a good hair wash was long overdue, however the pain and discomfort was huge for this poor little guy.

  • Who would have thought our teens would eventually crumble with sinus/chest colds, bad timing with my husband already on his second dose of antibiotics because he wasn’t recovering fast enough.

  • Amidst loose teeth falling out from the little ones (one lost two teeth, the other one), many woes of sordid types hitting us from every angle, here today, our youngest daughter has landed unwell with another good family dose of timely chicken pox.

Chicken Pox again!

Since our Lent has included items unexpected to date, it makes me wonder just how our next week, Holy Week, will unfold now with the chicken pox incubation period in progress.

After some reflection and attempting to turn negatives into positives, here’s what I think as I sit here tonight…

Our famous Lenten pretzels.

  • We will continue to prepare ye the way of the Lord. We shall continue to pray the “Way of the Cross” with the candles (see HERE) set down in the shape of a cross. The children take turns snuffing out one candle at a time after each station prayed, until the room is in total darkness, a reminder of the Crucifixion and the sacrifice when our Lord declared “Father they don’t know what they do”, and we find comfort in John 3:16 until the all glorious resurrection day draws nearer.

Remembering the "Way of the Cross", our way.

  • We will open up our “Way of the Cross” box and discuss all the symbolism inside of it. And we will read “Benjamin’s Box” and open up our “Resurrection Eggs”, with even more child friendly devotionals the children always look forward to. Along with these teaching aids, we will recite our sorrowful mysteries and take turns leading our prayer times.

(Each egg opens up along each step of the way of the cross, and the children discover anew what each symbolic item represents.)

Our Resurrection Eggs

  • We will continue to stumble if we have to, traveling the way of the cross with our “Jesus Tree”, and renew our hearts and minds of the rich beauty of Salvation history woven like an exquisite tapestry for all to read and remember God’s perfect love story he authored for us.

Our family's "Jesus Tree"

Additions to come for our Jesus Tree devotionals

  • We will take out our purple cloths in preparation for Holy Week next week, and make certain the yellow ones are waiting and ready for Easter Sunday, along with every color of the rainbow to remind us of the glorious and heavenly things to come!
Bright rainbow colors for the Resurrection Day!

We will allow Salvation history to come alive for us, relive it all! As we have recently delved into a "scuba dive descent" (DEEP) this past fall, by completing both the "Bible Timeline Seminar" for a scenic history tour through the Bible, and then my hubby completed the subsequent 24 week course; "The Great Adventure; A Journey through the Bible" , with our teens, everything about the Lenten season leaves history buffs and faithful buffs alike, in awe over the greatest story ever unfolded directly before our eyes. Let us gulp it all in. Let us be filled with traditions, let us relive and retrace those footsteps of the "Master" story teller.

A great course for an all encompassing
understanding of Salvation history!

In Addition, and just to let you know there are times to accept where our paths may lead us, may our family always get real... especially... ;

  • When our weary bodies plead for a respite from several sleepless nights in a row nursing family patients, we will offer it all up for the good of another’s intention.

  • When our young daughter gets upset because she’s itchy this week, she decided she would not waste her time of suffering and offer it up to benefit another.

  • With all the sickness in our home so far this Lent, surely there is more offering and sacrifice happening than we actually expected to perform.

  • In addition, with a longer renovation detailing than previously anticipated, taking up more work and time than expected, we will do our spring cleaning and whistle while we work. Like the ladies who try to keep real by posting on Wednesdays (works for me Wednesdays!) over HERE, let us covet the ideal of striving to keep living in the real world while working towards the next.
  • We will also continue to shovel snow as long as it continues to fall upon us, offering thanksgiving for the bright sun usually accompanying the tough task. And, we will offer up all our work, no matter what because it makes it so much easier and gives it proper perspective to do it this way.
  • When life throws obstacles our way when least expected and we witness others who are suffering, let us step up our prayers and offer them all up for their benefit.

Our unfinished new project lay undone,
but will be completed for next year.

  • We will refuse to allow any sort of discouragement into our home, not even the bit I try to fend off when realizing my newest and most intricate "Jesus tree - A Lenten journey through the gospels" ** project will remain undone again this year(our other was made with the four older children, time to make another with the younger four children) . On a happy note, I will resolve to work with the children on this project when we can anyhow, and it will be all ready for next year.

Yes, perhaps then, our Lenten season has been redirected, but not by our own ability to remain in some sort of control over it. There is a time when we need to hand over the control on our lives, and allow a bit of intervention and obvious "carrying" to get through it. Life is like that at times, let us slam down our pride and let us accept when this is our moment to covet the assistance and be thankful for it all.

Moreover, let us pray, let us still prepare when we are able, let us eat fish and fast, let us gear up and wholeheartedly embrace with a thrilling anticipation, that of the most Holy Week in the church’s year, coming upon us already next week. Are you ready?

Let us offer up our sacrifices, as best as we can, and if it’s not possible to “do it all”, let us do only what we can with great love for Jesus and thank him for what he has done for us. Let us lift up our own crosses and remember how much they pale in comparison to the greatest cross ever carried - for us!


** Scripture trees (Advent and Lenten felt projects)