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Usually these essays come in written form, but this Lent, we were delighted to receive a podcast reflection from St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Philadelphia. This church records short Lenten reflections from members and makes them available via SoundCloud. Catherine Holochwost pondered the experience of Lent as a mother of young children.
The original sound file is below, and the full script follows. – Ed.
Lent Amidst the Sippy Cups
It can be hard to get into the spirit of Lent for families with young children. We have three – two of them two year-old twins – and the steady churn of sippy cups, diapers, and snacks doesn’t feel so different from Advent, Pentecost, or any other time, for that matter. “The days are long, but the years are short” is good advice – but it can be hard to remember on those long days.
I’d wager that for all of us, in the churn of work and kids or other responsibilities, not to mention 24-hour news cycles, we lose sight of what Lent means. The church calendar has no time for frenetic, harried mindlessness. (Which is a shame, because I’d be great at that.) Instead, I think we’re supposed to wait, and notice what’s here.
And so for me, Lent doesn’t mean giving up, but returning. Darkness at 4pm gives way to longer daylight hours.
Scruffy forsythia blooms all along my commute home. Snow covers concrete sidewalks that tree roots have heaved up in jagged planes, like glaciers, and nearby, snowdrops and crocuses stubbornly add their cheerful beauty to a yard that has seen better days.
However much I like to get in my rut and stay there – the liturgical calendar moves me on. It’s a reminder: I’m part of a community, a tradition. I am bound to a communion of saints whose most saintly act may be pulling me out of my own self-regard, my own daily cares and woes.
This is the Jesus I like to think I’m waiting on. Someone who causes me to notice flowers by the roadside, who is content to sit on the floor, crisscross applesauce, with me and my kids, as they wrestle and babble. Waiting for nothing in particular, except for the life that we’ve all been given.
What is God inviting you to notice and learn as Lent winds to a close?