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"How'd your Lent go?" by Lindsay Schlegel (CatholicMom.com) FreelyPhotos.com (2017), CC0 Public Domain[/caption] It’s the homestretch. Lent is almost over. The restrictions on weeknight dessert in our house will soon be lifted, and our kids will rejoice that the Octave of Easter means candy every night for a week. If you used grocery store shelves as a calendar, you’d think Easter happened before Ash Wednesday. But Lent is real, and it’s important, and it’s always different, even if you give up the same thing every year. This week, as Lent comes to a close, I challenge you (and myself) to ask at least one person how his or her Lent was this year. It could be a friend, your sister, your husband, your parent, or your kids. But whoever it is, make sure you have enough time to hear a real, honest answer, if he or she is willing to give it. Our culture moves quickly and a lot of communication happens on screens, in bite-sized portions. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But as someone who’s been off social media for the last five and a half weeks, I can tell you for sure that sharing a cup of tea in person is more fulfilling and more worthwhile than scrolling through yet another feed. What if, this week, we each made the sacrifice of time and space to truly listen to someone else’s experience of the season? We’d fast from thinking about ourselves for a bit. We could pray for this other: for his or her intentions, to thank God for the gift of this person in our lives, to praise God for His glory as we experience it in the love between friends, to let go of sin we’ve been holding on to. In listening, we’d give of ourselves in a way that maybe we don’t do often enough. Imagine the ripple effect. Maybe, afterward, the person we ask would be compelled to reach out to someone who’s been struggling, someone who needs to be heard. Maybe we’d make more of an effort to make time for these kinds of conversations outside of Lent, just because it’s a good thing to do. One of the joys of Lent for me this year has been inviting friends over for tea and just talking. No agenda, no project to get done. Just slowing down and spending time together. I need these connections, this sense of community. When we build this up, we can build the Kingdom. We need to encourage each other by seeing, hearing, and knowing each other. My hope is that when someone asks you how your Lent was, rather than speaking about what you gave up, you can talk about what you gained: hope, peace, joy, laughter, friendship, a new perspective, love, mercy, grace. For as much as we need Lent, we are an Easter people.
Copyright 2018 Lindsay Schlegel