Thursday, March 3, 2011

Entering the Desert

Lent is starting so very, very late this year. It feels strange that it's March already, and we're still in Ordinary Time. Less than a week to go, though, until Ash Wednesday, and so Lenten observances are on my mind.

I read Kate Wicker's terrific "Resources for Lent" post yesterday, which has me inspired. My Lenten sacrifices were paltry in 2009 and 2010; to be honest, I can't even remember what I did. I was in my first and early second trimester in 2009 and still dealing with a young and stubbornly sleepless baby in 2010, and taking on anything significant seemed like more than I could handle. And perhaps it really was, especially last year, but as a result, my experience of the Triduum and of Easter Sunday was less intense than it has been in the past. The Church in her wisdom knows that we need the time in the desert first, and I'm determined to embrace it this year.

One of the observances Kate mentions comes via Rachel Balducci--she discusses writing personal, handwritten notes to family and friends throughout Lent. This is such a beautiful idea, and one that I plan to adopt. I'll admit that I hope it might have the added benefit of resulting in some return notes, too. Often when I collect our mail, I'll notice a small, hand-addressed card or letter, only to have my initial rush of excitement crushed as I see that it's for Miriel, who is the queen of the letter. She keeps telling me you have to send good mail to get good mail; well, we'll see! (Would you like to get a note from me? E-mail your address, or DM me on Twitter.)

We've also been discussing foregoing takeout food throughout Lent. We are fortunate in that we don't have a strict food budget, but it makes it all to easy for me to turn to takeout on the frequent evenings when I'd rather not cook. Nate has been getting a little better about letting me cook dinner, as long as I bribe him with an episode of Sesame Street or Blue's Clues, but that seems a small price to pay for getting a home-cooked meal on the table. I'm not planning on being strict about what I prepare--sandwiches are fine if I don't feel up to cooking--but I'd like to transform takeout from a crutch into a special treat. (I'm not planning on giving up going out to restaurants, which is something David and I enjoy doing for date night or that we occasionally do as a family.)

Our yard is currently littered with twigs and small branches, thanks to some particularly windy days lately, and I'm planning on bringing some of them inside and arranging them in some way on our kitchen table as a visual reminder of the season.

In addition to making time for reciting morning and evening prayer, I'd like to undertake some sort of spiritual reading. For as many books as we own, and for a religion major who at one time planned on attending seminary (this was pre-conversion, obviously), I do embarrassingly little spiritual reading. As in, none to speak of. I've never even read Mere Christianity. Or Orthodoxy. I just ordered One Thousand Gifts, which has a promotional trailer so lovely that I couldn't resist buying the book (seriously, I dare you to watch it and not end up teary-eyed--it's SO worth the five minutes of your life). I feel like I need something more traditional, though. Any recommendations?

I'm also trying to figure out how best to support the spring 40 Days for Life campaign. Nate and I went to pray in front of the local abortion clinics a couple of times during the fall campaign, but it's a pretty difficult thing to do with a toddler. (It was difficult enough in the fall before Nate could walk.) The clinics are in the same office park along a very busy street, and there's no way to take Nate without holding him for the entire time. He is a notorious stroller-hater, and he's all about exploring right now--something he can't do with cars whizzing by. Maybe I can see if one of the other women in my parish moms' group wants to participate and switch off babysitting. Otherwise, it might just be frequently reciting the Sorrowful Mysteries at home.

That's all I have for now. I'd like to do some other, non-serious things, like making homemade pretzels and hot cross buns. I'd like to re-watch The Passion of the Christ, which I haven't been able to face again since I first saw it in the theater, during Holy Week. I'd like to spend less of Nate's naptime online and watching TV, and more of it reading, praying, cooking, or taking care of the house.

What are your plans for a fruitful Lent?