(and Advent and Christmas and Ordinary Time…)
For years, Lent was my favorite season of the Church. I dove deep into the spirit of reflection and penitence, hoping to be changed for the better by the experience. I often was, too. I entered into it sincerely and came out the other side with perspective and growth.
In the past few years, though, I’ve had much more an appreciation for the Paschal Mystery, the rhythm of the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar that parallels that of Jesus’s life. His birth was highly anticipated (Advent), he was born (Christmas), he grew up (still Christmas), and traveled, teaching and healing (Ordinary Time). Then he is arrested and crucified (Lent), but he rises from the dead (Easter) and ascends into heaven (still Easter).
Instead of focusing on one particular season, I’ve been more edified by entering into all of them, observing them through ritual, reading, and spirit. In this way, I walk in Jesus’ footprints– all of them, not just from one aspect of his life. Advent, after all, leads to Christmas, and Lent to Easter. They are doorways to each other and the connections made between them are more fruitful than viewing them separately.
I always benefit from the special readings and rituals, because they draw me deeper into the spirit of Jesus’ life through the liturgical season. I used to decide to do multiple additional activities and prayers, on top of these. Now I try to enter, eyes open and truly present, to what these have to offer me. I also focus on the people that I see and am with already, rather than thinking I need to be more to different people. How can I help them with more love? How can I be more present to them?
My observance of these liturgical seasons has become simpler, to be sure. Painting has also become part of that. Instead of ambitious reading lists and long prayer periods in chapel, I’ve been doing art as prayer. That helps me to center in on what matters spiritually.
It’s been a quiet, fruitful Lent. I look forward to a joyful, reflective Easter!