Lent starts next week. I’m not ready. I know it’s not a thing I have to have a bunch of stuff ready for, but it’s a season I’m not ready for. I haven’t been ready for anything since after Halloween and yet everything keeps happening.
Some years Christmas is harder than others. Even as a child it was like this so I can’t really blame finances or present shopping or anything like that. Maybe it’s because of the Christmas my grandmother died and the way that ripples through my family still, like even though our DNA was already in us, it seeped in too and now it’s just part of us. I don’t know. I just know that some are hard.
This year, it happened and it was good, but I wasn’t there.
I was there, physically. But I wasn’t there. I wasn’t present. I was just getting us from one thing to the next. I didn’t feel anything, any Christmas. I tried, but it just didn’t happen this year. Even my makeshift Advent candles that usually trigger some sense of reverent waiting, some spark of holy magic didn’t do their trick this year. I lit them a little, but I don’t remember how or why. It just was one of those Christmases.
I was looking forward to winter – the hibernation of it. Dark days, soup, cold, a little snow. I wanted to be inside, quiet, not much expected out of any of us. I wanted fire and tea and hot cocoa and just to be. But it’s been over 70 degrees more days than not and the beautiful weather has annoyed me. I live in a state with 4 seasons. I want all 4 of them. We did have one snow/ice event but it was disappointing. I really prepped myself for it this time – I was so ready to be snowed in. It just didn’t happen.
So other things have come and gone (or are still happening) like Natalie’s birthday (still haven’t thrown the party), Valentine’s Day, basketball season, Girl Scout cookie season, school fundraisers, my dad’s birthday and I just can’t get there. I just can’t get anywhere. I am here, every day showing up in these places and doing these things I am supposed to do but I am not really here. I am in some in-between place, floating not with weightlessness, but with restlessness. In some realm waiting for something, some release.
I can’t really breathe. But life doesn’t stop, even when you’re suffocating. I’ve learned, it keeps on without you even if you try to opt out or slow down. It won’t stop or slow at all and you and you will miss the things. You will miss the milestones and the holidays and the opportunities and the seasons at hand. While you stop to try to catch your breath, to try to fashion some kind of life that doesn’t suck the air out of you, you will miss everything and you won’t get it back. You will always feel behind. Because some people don’t ever have trouble breathing, it seems. Some people just don’t need to stop and those people will leave you behind and scoff at you for needing a break. Those people exist. They exhaust me, but they exist.
So, I’m not ready for Lent.
I just keep feeling like there are a million things I need to do, could do, should do, must do and I just keep feeling out of breath. My mind is full, running quickly, trying to manage everything and my body just tenses and crashes.
I need rest. Not a night’s rest. Real rest.
My prayers have been turning up though. Desperate.
Desperate prayers are good prayers, I know. You can’t fake them either, desperate prayers can only come from the desperate. And we are always supposed to be desperate for heaven, desperate for love, desperate for mercy and grace and joy and peace and justice and healing and the holy movement of divinity within us and around us.
Maybe that’s where my air is – in the prayers. In the neediness and the desperation and the weariness. Maybe that’s where rest is, nestled against Holy Love.
Maybe it’s remembering that this momentary affliction – whatever it is – is preparing for me (and for you) a glory. A glory more expansive and impressive than people who don’t need to stop to catch their breath.
I’d be foolish not to recognize the way the world affects me, to not note that. No, it’s not just in my head. It’s all around me. And yet, so is heaven.
It’s always a matter of choice, everything in life – what do you choose? I haven’t been able to choose hardly anything lately, it feels. I’ve just addressed the things right before me. I guess that’s a choice but it hasn’t really felt like one. It’s just that’s all I’ve had space for. I don’t even have space for the guilt some would have me feel for that. Or the contempt others would have for my guilt. I have no space for the guilt or the contempt but they still taunt me from where they are. They still rattle me and try to get in. They know that I know they are out there. They wear me out even from a distance.
What have I been doing if all I’ve been doing is what’s right in front of me? I’ve mainly been bearing witness. I have been existing in a space that sees and feels and accepts that these things are happening -that these energies, these emotions, these movements are existing and competing and creating chaos. I recognize these things have always existed and created chaos but I guess this was my time to bear witness, to wait, to listen. I suppose it was my time to get desperate with the weight of it.
I am desperate, with the weight of it.
There are eternal forces around us, within us. There is more to everything, to everyone than what meets the eye.
Maybe I am ready for Lent. Maybe that’s exactly what I’m ready for.