Sunday, February 3, 2008

Formerly known as Quadragesima....

Lent.

From Wikipedia:

"In the English language, Lent was formerly referred to by the Latin term quadragesima (translation of the original Greek tessarakoste, the "fortieth day" before Easter). This nomenclature is preserved in Romance, Slavic and Celtic languages (for example, Spanish cuaresma, Portuguese quaresma, French carĂªme, Italian quaresima, Croatian korizma, Irish Carghas, and Welsh C(a)rawys).
In the late Middle Ages, as sermons began to be given in the vernacular instead of Latin, the English word lent was adopted."

As we approach Ash Wednesday (following Superbowl Sunday and Super Tuesday), I'm reminded of my childhood quest to find the absolute best thing to give up for Lent. Some of the things I tried to give up as a kid that never flew with the adults around me were:

baby sitting my brother and sister
doing chores
doing homework
cleaning my room

Well you get the idea. As I recall, this was a fairly common attempt ("Good try!" was the usual response) among my Catholic schoolmates.

Over the years, I've learned to discern that "giving up things for Lent" is more about a renewal of my commitment to a way of life, rather than about the things I do or do not give up. (Another meaning of Lent comes from the word 'spring'). And part of the process for me is acknowledging my gratitude for what God does for me and the people He's placed in my life.

God makes these things so easy for me. You'll see why I say that in a moment. This morning I received an email from a friend who offered to come over and fix my front door so I can get in and out more easily and work on my recalcitrant computer. Then I got a call from another friend who is making me a custom wheelchair bag for the power chair. After that a third friend stopped by to leave off chicken wings for our Super Bowl get together later. And then there's Meredith.

Thank you all for being part of my process. It makes it very easy for me to do the not as easy task of giving up those things that are blocking my spirituality and my peace, those things that interfere with my prayer life and my ability to serve others or be present to their needs when I see how much has been given to me, how much love is shown to me. How dare I balk at giving up those things that block my connectedness to God? And yet it is still a struggle to get started on this Lenten journey every year.

This year I have a list of several things I am giving up for Lent, a list that is written in my heart if not on my blog.