Saturday, April 20, 2019

7 Quick Takes - How Lent Went

Happy Easter!  
I presume when most read this post, it will be Easter time.  Alleluia!  We made it! I don't know about you, but I'm licking a few emotional wounds from Lent, mostly caused my own failings. If the 40 days of Lent teaches me nothing else every year, it shows me just how weak I truly am.  All my best intentions, plans and Lenten resolutions just went out the window several times, and even Good Friday ended on a sour note when I lost my temper with my family (only an hour after going to confession, no less) thanks to my own anxieties.  It happens. But now it is Saturday morning as I write this, Holy Saturday.  Jesus is in the tomb and I find myself in an awkward and uncomfortable transition, waiting for the forgiveness that I don't think I entirely deserve. Maybe this is how the apostles felt on Good Friday night? Surely, they must have felt the heaviness that I am feeling today that comes from betraying Jesus by letting our own fears and anxieties take control. Yet as unworthy as they felt, Jesus loved them anyway, and once they recognized their failure and asked for his forgiveness, he used them for his greater glory, and they changed the world.  Maybe I didn't do so great at Lent but I tried.  I'll keep trying.  Satan may have had his way yesterday but he will not prevail.  Come, Lord Jesus, come.

So, other than the predictable spiritual trips and falls that I took during the past 40 days, there were a few highpoints.  Perhaps the greatest of these was our family trip to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Alabama.  I'd always wanted to visit, and when debating where to go for our annual Spring Break trip, we settled on combining a trip to Chattanooga (to see the trains, of course, because #boymom) with my desire to make a one day pilgrimage somewhere for my birthday.  I just ended my 5th decade of life (whoa!), so I wanted to make it memorable.  After listening to three boys squabble in one backseat for five hours, trust me, it was memorable!  I still question why we never got a mini-van.  Yet, all that aside, the trip was worth it.  The weather was perfect, the Shrine had very few visitors that day, and we got to spend time in adoration, holy mass, doing outdoor stations, visiting the grotto, and just enjoying the beauty of the drive and the grounds.  We saw Fr. Miguel (from EWTN) and were blessed to see Mother Angelica's crypt.  For me, the whole day was my personal thank you to Jesus for being so merciful to me.  How could I possibly regret getting older when I know that every day is his gift to me?

Happy Birthday, Mother Angelica!

During Lent, we also celebrated St. Joseph's day.  Since my kids are gluten-free, I always try to come up with an alternative to the traditional pastries served on this day.  This year, I attempted a gluten-free puff pastry. It took a lot of butter and tasted good, but didn't puff up worth a hoot.  So, back to the books for a new recipe for next year.  We topped it off with some whipped coconut crème and the kids loved it, anyway.  Anyone have a gluten-free puff pastry recipe that really works?

March always means two things around here (besides Lent).  Wildflower walks and potato planting.  We were lucky enough to get some dry weather (after a foot of rain during February) long enough for the soil to dry out so that we could get our taters in the ground.  My family eats a LOT of potatoes! So, I wanted to grow a bunch.  We planted about 40 pounds of potatoes.  If all goes well, we should harvest at least twice that much, but it'll all come down to the weather and the potato bugs.  My boys are already excited about how much money they're going to earn this summer picking potato bugs off the plants.  Last year, they earned about $30.  I think I better lower my rate this summer!

The foot of rain from February did make for a fabulous wildflower display this past month.  It's been a long time since I've seen the wildflowers as gorgeous and prolific as they've been this spring.  Here are just a few photos I took from one of my favorite hiking trails. Every week from mid-March until mid- April, there's something new in bloom in our forest.  One week, the hepatica carpets the hillside, two weeks later, the mayapples have taken over.  Then, the leaves pop out on the trees and the whole show is over again until next year.

And speaking of shows, while we were in Chattanooga for our Spring Break, I got to take a little mom-break (because mama can only handle so many trains) and went to see the movie "Unplanned" while my men when to ride yet another train.  I wasn't sure what to expect from the film, but given what I'd read about it, my interest was peaked, so I seized the opportunity to go see it and I'm so glad I did.  It is one of those movies you don't forget easily.

I admit it did trigger some painful feelings related to my past miscarriages, but I found the film to be tastefully done and extremely respectful of those on both sides of the abortion issue. More than anything, it helped me realize just how important our pro-life witness is, whether it be large or small.  That point was driven home to me even more the following day when I was sitting in the car with my toddler, waiting for my husband and boys to come out of a take-out restaurant.  My windows were rolled down and I was reading a book (this book!). Suddenly, I heard some loud, raucous teen boys making comments about my vehicle's "Choose Life" license plate.  They were not nice comments.  When they noticed that I was sitting in the vehicle, they piped down, got in their car (which was parked next to mine) and took off, but not before shouting an obscenity out the window and spinning their tires. I just ignored them. As my husband said, they are young, they will learn.  Added to the irony of that encounter was the fact that I had taken this photo just two days before when we visited the Shrine. If this isn't a cultural war, I'm not sure what is.  Lord, help us.

So, I suppose you could say that Lent for me was very much a rollercoaster, just as most of my life has been.  Lots of little stuff, some big stuff, too much to contemplate, really.  I watched Notre Dame burn, mourned a cousin who died too young, rallied for Life, watched others mock it, and celebrated my own. I talked to Jesus on Holy Thursday about things heavy on my heart and heard only the worlds "Die with me," leaving me with only more questions.  That night, as a family, we remembered the Lord's last meal with our own version of a seder supper. We reflected upon the greatest gift Jesus gave to us in the Eucharist, and then we spent the next 24 hours failing at holiness. And in between it all, the potatoes grew, and the wildflowers bloomed, and we waited for Jesus to make all things new again, as he always does.