It feels like a day for a stream of consciousness post. I’ve set my timer for ten minutes. I’m going to let my mind move to my fingers and my fingers move to the keys.
This week started the season of Lent. Back in the day, I’d use these 40 days to give up something like wine or caffeine or gum, but really, what does that even do? Sure, we’re giving up something we enjoy, but does it truly move us internally? I don’t think so.
Since 2016 when my mom passed away, everything feels more intense but also more precious. Life feels fragile and glorious at the same time. When I held my mom’s hand as she slipped away, it felt surreal like surely this isn’t actually happening to me. At the time I wasn’t even 40 years old. It felt unfair to lose my mom before my 40th birthday and before her grandchildren had spent enough years with her.
But then again, life’s not really concerned about being fair. We’ve all had things happen to us that feel like punches in the gut. All we can do is stand up straight, lean into the pain and learn from it.
So, Lent. In recent years I’ve used it as a time for reflection and connection with God. Sometimes I don’t like talking about my faith because I don’t want readers to think my faith is gimmicky, preachy or in any way influenced by forced church attendance as a child. My parents were both turned off from church because of their own uncomfortable childhood experiences. Instead of taking my sister and I to God in the form of a church, they brought God into our home. My childhood home was full of joy, love, generosity and laughter. We were middle-class folks, but it always felt like we had plenty. Later during my teens, I stumbled upon Young Life and that’s where I began finding my own way when it came to God. Since then, it’s been a twisty winding road but my faith is strong and vibrant. It’s more about my personal relationship with God than any type of theological knowledge or church affiliation.
This year during Lent, I’m taking on the challenge of waking up even earlier than usual so I have plenty of time with my own thoughts and with God. Every day unravels unexpectedly, full of noise. To combat that, I need early morning quiet time like I need food and water. For the next 40 or so days, I plan to get up at 5:15 a.m. each weekday and 7:00 a.m. each weekend morning. This makes me go to bed earlier and offers more time in the morning before the boys wake up.
On an unrelated note, my dad is closing on the home he and my mom shared together for 14 years. It wasn’t the home I grew up in, but it was the home my boys remember. It was the place they crawled and giggled and played. My mom loved having them spend the night there. She would wake up early to make their special cheese grits and buttered toast. Whenever I arrived to pick them up, they wanted to stay with her instead of come home with me, and I absolutely loved that.
Now, as I walk through that empty house, my heart aches for what it once felt like. Warmth, happiness, family, delicious smells from the kitchen. Worst of all, my heart aches for my dad. He’s aged so much in the three years since her passing. It’s time he let go of the financial and emotional burden of the house but nevertheless, as his child, it’s challenging to watch him and feel his sorrow.
Even though life feels heavy, I feel hopeful. I work hard to live within the confines of one day so my mind doesn’t overthink the future or worry what’s going to happen with this or that. It’s not easy for me to be lighthearted these days, but I’m trying. As Lent continues, I’ll see what comes of these early morning hours. I’m curious to know what God has planned.