Don’t know if I’ve mentioned this. I was raised Catholic.
And to a very strong extent, there is much about this background that still resonates spiritually and otherwise with me. I suppose I often sit through my (currently) Baptist (or other evangelical) church services with a bit of a God complex or sense of religious-intellectual-superiority that I perhaps wrongly attribute to my childhood of Catholic school and mass.
Call me crazy, but there’s something about the tradition, the liturgy, the stations of the cross, the reciting of the Apostle’s Creed, even those crazy ash tattoos once a year, that somehow had me believing if God listened to anyone’s prayers, He was probably listening to mine. I don’t know why I thought this. Or why I still do, for that matter. But I blissfully blame the Catholic church, and will never begrudge this part of my past.
I also secretly love it when my Baptist friends are surprised to find out that even while I was a Catholic (and gasp, at that) I knew–and loved–Jesus.
Even after my family ceased attending mass and started spending far more than the obligatory sixty minutes in a pew on Sundays, I still attempted to observe Lent every year. In college, I graduated from King Cakes and took things up a notch by kicking Lent off with Baylor’s version of Fat Tuesday. The year my memory remains the spottiest, ironically, was at a party thrown by Truett Seminary students. And who said that Catholics and Baptists can’t find a common ground?
Traditionally, Lent is of course the forty days before Easter when most observing Americans (I assume) attempt to give up things which make us fat, smell bad, or run slower. Generally, though we call it “fasting,” it seems to be more of a diet of sorts, often secretly done in the name of losing weight, clearing up our complexions, or becoming more productive. Or was I the only one basing my sacrifice on the things that I thought were negatively in control of some aspect of my appearance?
Now that I’ve had two children though, Lent kind of seems like a joke. I mean. What’s forty days without soda once you’ve gone forty weeks without dairy? And alcohol. And Excedrin Migraine for crying out loud.
So it should come as no shock that today I realized we are now, what, fully two weeks into Lent (?), and I didn’t even notice. Blame my “post-modern” evangelical church and it’s lack of candles and purple drapery. I mean, I completely missed it.
Pardon me, Pope Benedict, but I’ve decided to start my Lenten observance tomorrow.
There is, actually, something I’ve been considering, for months now, and I think I’m finally ready to say enough is enough. I’m addressing the fact that I do not get out of bed before 8 o’clock on any given weekday morning and not before 9:30 on the weekends.
It would truly be a sacrifice to give up that extra hour of sleep I tend to guard, rabid bulldog style, every morning.
(Every mother of children under five on the planet is breaking her Lenten cursing fast right now. Sorry. It is true. I get to sleep in and my children know to just leave me alone. Some mornings, I even come downstairs to find Eliott has toasted me a bagel.)
Truth be told, it is something John and I talk about frequently. He and I both agree that there is something sacred about getting up before the rest of the house and having that first hour to prepare for the day. When we were counseling in the woods, this time often was the difference between a mediocre day (or season) and progress in a group. For John, it was the difference between C’s and A’s in law school. When I was teaching, it allowed me to leave before the afternoon buses, most days of the week.
But now that my life predominantly revolves around feeding my family and making sure my children don’t die, somehow, that competitive edge that had me up before sunrise for so many years of my life, is lacking.
And I miss it.
So this is my plan. John is up and out of the house, most days, an hour and a half before I’m awake. The idea of enjoying my first cup of coffee to Morning Edition is going to have to serve as my rabbit, even if all I do for that extra hour is pray my children stay in bed.