Last year I got home from Easter dinner and was devastated. It had been one of those dreadful family parties where I drifted through, feeling ignored by everybody.
This year: no worries. I had a good time and enjoyed chatting with people. A few things were different. 1.) I have a newborn. That makes me a rock star. 2.) I didn’t try too hard with the one cousin to whom I wish I could be close, but who won’t let me in. 3.) I had a good Lent and a great Easter Vigil Mass.
Alright, just got distracted from writing because I was staring at my beautiful baby lamb. Back on task.
Lent was better this year because 1.) I gave up something important (Facebook), 2.) I stuck with it, and 3.) it was the sort of thing that does actually give one more space for God. It appears that sharing every half-baked thought with every acquaintance I’ve met since preschool isn’t good for me. Weird.
Also, Lent was really good because my company bought me an iPad. It’s not how it sounds! I have a cheap drug dealer phone, I don’t even have cable, let alone a flat screen! And I know that Lent is not about getting things
like Christmas is. But, there are some fantastic apps on the iPad for reading the day’s readings, getting information about the saint of the day, and even listening to the New Testament performed. For the first time, I have found a way to read a previously heavy tome while nursing a baby who doesn’t like for me to fidget. Or do anything besides stare at her. (Lucky her–we have so much in common! I too want to do nothing besides stare at her.) And I find that as I get even a little bit of scripture in, my life gets better. I think I walk around with soul-flu most of the time, and only occasionally check in with a doctor (priest) to clear my chest. This Lent was better because I put in a small dollop of effort.
This Lent was also better than usual because I was oddly nostalgic, remembering my freshman year of college, when I lived in a Catholic dorm and could go to the chapel 24-7. I went a lot, and was sad a lot because my dad had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and despite my best efforts to think otherwise, I knew that my two-year relationship with my boyfriend was fizzling. I have such distinct memories of kneeling in the chapel, wanting to be close to God. This Lent, I was able to remember that hollowness, and give thanks to God that my life turned out the way it has, and to try to recognize that even when he offers me suffering, his plans are way better than the harebrained schemes I dream up.
Because of having a newborn and a less-than-compliant three-year-old, Fierce and I split up for Mass. I went to the Vigil, and he went to 7:30. We both felt like we got the better end of the deal. Historically, my family has either gone to the airport for Mass (“It’s only 45 minutes long!”) or my uncle, who’s a priest, has us come to his nursing home for the religious. There we entertain the lonely retired religious by letting our children toddle around after the service. This year, they were not having a vigil Mass, so my parents and most of my siblings went to the airport. Increasingly, I am baffled by this attitude about avoiding long services and Chreasters. My dad goes to daily Mass. We grew up praying a daily Rosary. And now, my parents will drive over an hour round trip to save themselves from sitting through a local service that is about that much longer than usual.
Sitting in the dark at the Vigil Mass, feeling so grateful to Christ for allowing himself to be tortured to death, so that he could save a dweeb like me, I became aware that God does great things when given the slightest opportunity. Read the day’s readings and suddenly I’m more patient; read about the saints and find that I’m inspired to give more generously; pray a Rosary with my husband, and find my heart softening all over the place. Really, it’s getting kind of embarrassing.