As Lent concludes… A personal reflection
Thanks to all who shared how Lent went for you. It seems that you covered the gamut from 1-10. I was surprised at how many registered above 6! It’s not what I hear from folks after Mass or in confession.
So, here’s my story. I resolved to give away 8 things a week for Lent, really, for a whole year. My purpose was and still is to explore why I hang on to things. What drives me to “have?” So, even naming this purpose set me spinning with anxiety. Give up… things???
I perceive three phases: a) palpable fear, b) numbing out, and c) bundled emotions.
Once I pulled the first few books off my shelf, I experienced fear of letting go, of surrendering, of not having enough. (!) Then, some anger. “What the hell were you thinking!” I set aside a box of 24 books to give away. Three weeks worth. The box sat there a month.
Phase two set in immediately as I resorted to ongoing coping mechanisms – overeating, shopping, and binge-watching old episodes of NCIS. All habits I’d developed over the decades to deal with emptiness, abandonment fears, “there’s never enough,” resentments, and such. In fact, on the Friday after Ash Wednesday, I ordered three new books (!) that I really needed.
This phase comes and goes. Numb out.
A series of other events that involve dealing with old and new losses provoked deeper reactions. I’m still kinda confused because they’re all bundled together. At times I identify a strand and sit with it.
Two final thoughts: First, all this is what I expected and, at the same time, more than I bargained for. I experience more vulnerability (which I hate) than before. I’m gradually getting clearer about the price I make others pay for not dealing with this stuff. Ouch.
Second, at times when I can simply breathe into a particular emotion, I become more grounded in the knowledge that our triune God has “fashioned for us a remedy out of mortality itself that the cause of our downfall might become the means of our salvation.”
And that, my friends, is what I am celebrating this Holy Week. God bless you all with the grace you need to rejoice in saving grace!