I don’t know why but, as Lent arrives this year, I find myself especially heavy-hearted. In previous years I’ve understood that Lent involves a certain sadness, but I feel as though I can especially identify with it this year. I haven’t wept but feel as though tears would come easily if I let myself cry. By all accounts I am blessed and should have no reason to feel this way. Nevertheless, I find myself feeling alone. If not for a loving family and friends, I do not know what I would do.
When I pray alone, God seems distant—so these days it takes everything in me to simply utter the words “God bless” and add a name. Because my heart wants a deeper connection in prayer, I pause a second or two after each name and in a simple, childlike way trust that God knows the details of the intercession. Still, believing that God has heard my prayer seems to be nothing more than a stretch of faith. Praying with others feels fuller to me. Maybe that is because I am borrowing their faith. I don’t know.
I cannot focus on sustained solitary reading, either. I have read Matthew and Mark in the last month but nothing really stuck with me this time. It is more speed-reading than sustained reading. In an effort to read through all four Gospels, I began reading Luke, but now I find myself flipping randomly to the Psalms of pathos for a semblance of solidarity. When I turn to the Psalms I only have to read a few verses and I find it is enough. The writer understands the experience that I call “welling up.”
I want to eat comfort food often, though I’ve managed to keep making healthy choices, thank God. Still, the desire is there and I am very aware of it.
So, I guess you could say I am simply trying to take it one day at a time these days. I am trying to simply delight in moments: the entrance of my wife into the room, the long embrace of a friend, laughter with a couple on the mend, the smile of my daughter, the earnest effort of my son, the light conversational cadence of dinner guests.
Today, the furnace beneath my office worked a little harder. I know that I should have turned the thermostat down to conserve energy but, to be honest, I just needed a little warmth. The cold bit my eyes on this morning’s walk. Even the dog almost slept through lunch. Winter is tiring.
Sometimes a heavy heart comes out as frustration. I find myself feeling angry too often lately. I get angry at the way we treat each other. I get angry about apathy and indifference. I get angry when I feel overlooked. I don’t like feeling angry, but I have to be honest—that is a real source of sadness.
I know that Lent is supposed to be a “purple” time. That is what I teach…that purple is a sad color and Lent is a time of sadness. But, I don’t like sadness. I don’t want it to linger. I want joy. I know…I know…sadness plays a role in joy, but how I wish it could be another way!
Pray for us sinners in this, the hour of our need. Pray for me, if you think of it. Maybe this year it would be good for me to skip Lent and just carry on with Easter.