Battling the starkness of Lent is a challenge

Lent has got to be one of the most depressing times of the year.

Everything is stark.

The altar at the Catholic church I attend – Saint Paschal Baylon – is stripped. The large foliage behind the priest’s chair is gone. Instead, it’s off to one side of the church which seems to send the message “too bad, I’m pretty and I’m hidden way over here so you can barely see me.”

There isn’t even an opening song when the priest walks down the aisle at the start of the mass. It’s just silent. Like you really need to be reminded Lent is a time to slow down and contemplate what you are doing right, what you are doing wrong and who you need to forgive? Really? As if five straight months of cold, snow and darkness in Cleveland, Ohio aren’t enough?

By the way, if you happen to read this Dad, this is just my Catholic sarcasm. Don’t worry, I appreciate my 12 years of Catholic schooling and four years of a Jesuit education at John Carroll University. But you’ve got to admit, Lent is not easy.

I say that, and then I think of what Jesus went through when He was beaten, tortured, and nailed to a cross to die for us. It puts things into perspective. How many times do we think the crosses God gives us are so unbearable we can’t go on another day? I’ll admit, I’ve felt that way a few times in my life. I know I’m not alone. That is what makes us human.

What is it that inspires us to battle through the dark days including the ones during Lent? I ask myself that question as I look out the big picture window in my home office at the bare tree in front of me. It’s dark, cold, and rainy outside. But in the distance, I hear birds singing.

That is what gives me hope. I know if I hang on another day, it may be sunny tomorrow. If I’m patient, the tree will eventually start to bud and I’ll be able to open my windows and fill my home with fresh air. That’s just the way life rolls. It’s like a roller coaster. You have your ups and downs and all you can do is hang on and enjoy the ride.

So, for now, I’ll quit complaining about the starkness that surrounds me. Instead, I’ll think of it as a way to take a peaceful break from life. In the background, I still hear the birds singing which provides me with just enough hope to battle through another day.








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