As the final days of Lent are here and Holy Week is upon us, I take a sigh of relief. Relief that this liturgical season of “sacrifice” is over.
I have for the most part of my life embraced with openness the disciplines of Lent. I have appreciated the time to slow down, simplify and be more intentional on prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
I will admit that I have not been very open to these spiritual practices since my beloved husband died. As the season of Lent draws near each year, I have almost cringed when someone simply asks, “What are you giving up this year?” Seriously? I have often felt as though I have given up so much with the death of my husband, the love of my life. My sense of being unconditionally loved, the security of always having the person I most enjoyed sharing my life with, the loss of the best person to dream with and plan for a future. I have “given up” time with the person I most appreciated, I have “given up” the deep discussions of faith and the meaning of life with the person I so loved to “do life with.” This is my daily sacrifice and loss.
And now, it is implied I needed to, “give something up.” For many bereaved persons, the suggestion of additional sacrifice can lack care, compassion and acknowledgment of all they may endure each day.
Following Dave’s death, I continued spiritual direction to help guide me in my journey of faith. Guidance has been helpful in how I may indeed transition to a place of acceptance and hope for the future. To again open myself to recognizing that I, too, may benefit from the disciplines of Lent. I have with intent focused on gratitude. Gratitude for all that I have and have had rather than all that I have, “given up.” I began the practice of journaling each of the days of Lent three things that I was grateful for at that moment of the day. In the dark days of grief finding joy at times was very difficult. It was tough to find three things that I was grateful for some days. I know that sounds horrible. It was horrible. It was horrible to see through a cloudy lens of pain and loss. I gave myself permission to be in my pain for those 40 days that first year, and the second and any days that I need to honor my journey of loss. I decided that for me to fully heal and move into the light of joy, I needed to name and grieve each of the pieces of my life that I perceived as lost.
Each day I would list my three items, moments or people that I was grateful for that day. I then allowed myself to list one, only one word of loss. Each day I prayerfully began in silence listing my three words of gratitude and my one word of loss. I would then read the reading of the day and ponder, reflect, listen.
I slowly began to be transformed. I slowly began to be more aware as the day went on of the blessings around me. And I was grateful. The 40 days have become more gentle, sacrifice not as painful. I have again found the practices of Lent to be helpful in my journey to become more and more the person whom God has called me to be in this life. I wish you the same.
Believe n love,