Being raised Catholict I grew to hate the Lenten season, the 40 days leading up to Easter; in my mind I reconciled the holiday less with chocolate as I grew up, and more with a time when I felt bad about myself. Felt bad that I'd slipped and accidentally eaten meat on a Friday; felt bad that I slipped and swore (the year I gave swearing up); always felt bad that I wasn't a good enough Catholic.
It took until I was in my 20s and a really cool priest (and dear friend) to help me realize that the most important thing about Lent isn't giving something up, it is using this time of year, to think of Christ's struggles and the temptations he faced. I think the coolest thing about the time leading up to Easter (Lent) is that this was the time when Jesus was hungry and worn down and being tempted by the Devil--it is at this point that he seems least God-like and most human to me; makes him more less distant and scary to me (even more so than at his birth). I like to think of Jesus at this time, when He wants to give up. I love a good underdog story and if you think of Jesus with all these challenges, it makes him way cooler--like Rocky. You just now he's gonna make it--maybe not in his first match, but at least he gives a hell (no pun intended) of a fight!
It is also during this time of year when the world is being reborn that it is easy to think of journeys: the journey of the smallest to biggest shoots and trees, coming back to life after so much seeming inactivity; the reawakening of nature; the coming-to-lifedness dance that all nature does every spring. I like to try and use this time of year to think about what is important in my own growth and spiritual journeys. I think: Stretch out, take stock, reach out, take action! Go do good in the world; make it a better place. It's not easy, but I like trying! I found this article--while though I didn't love it, I enjoyed this quote:
"I had a professor in the seminary many years ago who made a point that has stayed with me ever since, namely, that the liturgical year resembles a spiral rather than a circle. Every year we celebrate the same important feasts, but we are not in the same spiritual place that we were in the previous year.
For good or for ill, we change from year to year, and so does the impact of the feast upon our consciousness and our spiritual development."--Richard McBrien
So, I guess somehow this was my mumbly jumbly way of saying Happy Easter!
Pic found here.