The long Lent

Some Lents are longer than others.  I've had a few long Lents, and this one we are in the midst of now is long.  Really long.

I gave  up meat for Lent, which has proved to be not so difficult (except for that one day last week when I was craving a bacon cheeseburger.)  However, as I mentioned before, Lent always finds us even when we think we've got our Lent nicely planned.

I spent most of this Lent wrangling with state officials and social workers, trying to get help for Dark-Haired Daughter, who suffers from mental illness and severe learning disabilities.  One phone call got me transferred five times, and by the time I got to the fifth person (and having told my story five times), I still got nowhere.  After much tenacious work and even more tenacious prayer, I got a positive answer and help for Daughter.

Then, on Sunday, an old back injury flared up.  It happens about once or twice a year, and I have to go the emergency room, get shot full of pain killers and muscle relaxants, and then go home and sleep.  It's completey unpredictable, annoying, painful and disruptive.

That's Lent.  It is always an opportunity for us to suffer, a little bit.  It's that chance to get a glimpse into the humanity of Christ.  Jesus must have been frustrated (as I was, making all those phone calls) when people didn't listen to him, misunderstood him, distorted his words.  He certainly knew physical pain, wondering when it would end, gritting his teeth and praying for relief.  My little sufferings don't compare to His, but I can see a bit of it.  And that is the great blessing of Lent - to draw closer to Jesus, to see my life reflecting His in just a small way, and knowing that He is with me even when I'm feeling alone. 

I'm thinking of Lent now as a reflection of Christ in my life - where He is present to me, where His presence shows itself, and how I can learn from that.  Maybe a long Lent isn't so bad after all.

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