Isn’t it over yet? When can I get back to normal? This is the time in Lent when, even if we have a good rhythm to our practices, we consider them as something special, something above and beyond what we normally do. But we only take them on during the time of Lent and we may even look forward to when we no longer have to abide by them.
It’s not a bad thing to take on something extra for the duration of Lent, as long as it is something that will bring us closer in our relationship to God. But like most changes of some duration, it can be hard to always see the transition process in a positive light. Currently I’m feeling that in a very physical sense, as I am surrounded by boxes for my upcoming move to Virginia. While the physical impacts will be of a relatively short duration, living this day-to-day is fatiguing. I just want it to be over and not have to be planning and packing. However, once I’m in my new home, everything will be different. I anticipate a change in routine, like how I do things or where I go to shop. All of that will need a little experimenting as to what is best, so while the boxes may be put away, it will be yet another transition as I try out different options and settle in.
Instead of looking forward to the resumption of our normal routines, perhaps now is the time to examine how our Lenten practices can become part our normal lives. Does that mean abstaining from meat everyday or giving a donation to every cause that comes your way? No, there’s no need to be drastic. What if we consider abstaining from meat one day a month? It could be the first day of the month, the first Friday of the month, the last Friday of the month, or your birthday day. This could serve as a way to be mindful about what we eat and to thank God for for the gift of food and the people in the various industries that support it. Another example would be if you’re volunteering time during Lent to a community or church service to start donating monthly to them, or if your Lenten practice was to send a donation, consider volunteering for the organization. For those attending daily Mass just during Lent, rather than returning to only the Sunday obligation, consider attending one additional day a week, or prayerfully reflecting on the daily Mass readings.
It may take a little experimenting once Easter comes as to how we will keep our Lenten practices alive, but planning for it now begins the transition from a seasonal obligation to choice we make to express our faith in action.