...you have redeemed the world.
Kendall and I slipped into a back row during the second station - a little late, but not too much. Tommy had called, delaying me leaving the house. It's hard to say goodbye to a son you rarely see. But I hadn't attended Stations of the Cross yet this Lenten season - too many weekends out of town - and I didn't want to miss the chance.
It's one of those exotic Catholic things I knew nothing about growing up as a Baptist. I was a little nervous the first time, not knowing what to expect, but I was so moved that now I go every Friday of Lent if I can. It's a time to step out of my busy life and really reflect on Christ's sacrifice, his Passion, the last moments of his life on earth. You follow Jesus on his last journey, on fourteen significant moments between his condemnation to his placement in the tomb...and most-importantly, consider how they apply to your own life. It's similar to watching a Passion play, but, for me, it's more personal, more internalized.
Our "stations" are wooden plaques, hand-carved by a parishioner, spaced out along the walls of the sanctuary; and our reflections are through the eyes of Mary, imagining how it felt to her to be witnessing her son's last moments. This always hits me hard, as the mother of two sons, imagining how it must have felt for her to watch her son suffer and die this way, and yet accept it as God's will. It makes me a tad ashamed of all the complaining I do.
Lent itself was a new concept to me. I don't remember ever hearing it mentioned when I was growing up. Now even Baptist friends talk about what they're going to give up. One of them, Scott Gray, gave up drinking anything but water in support of Living Water International. He plans to donate the money he saves to this cause. (He's also going to be traveling in a few months to Haiti for hands-on involvement.) A blogger friend of mine, Pete, decided to sit in silence for thirty minutes every day. As he put it..."It will be my moment of listening to my breathing. And trusting that the Creator will breathe with me for a moment." (Read his complete post here.)
I've always been more inclined to add things that would help me on my spiritual journey, strengthen my relationship with God, rather than give up things...an extra prayer, daily inspirational readings, deliberately going out of my way to help someone each day. Whatever I add, I try to keep up with all year. I think adding is easier than giving up, though...a few years ago I gave up candy (well, everything but dark chocolate), and I was surprised how tough it was to pull my hand back from that candy jar. I prayed a lot that Lent! It reminded me just how weak I am by myself. God is truly my strength.
This year I gave up my nightly "strictly-for-my-health" one glass of red wine. New health reports were saying that while it might be heart-healthy, it could increase the risk of breast cancer. Even though heart problems are what historically create havoc in my family, it still weakens that "health" excuse. Another thing...my taste in wine was becoming more and more expensive, verging on selfish extravagance, and lord knows, we need the money for other things right now. But I admit there was another reason...in the back of my mind a small question had begun to grow larger: was my nightly glass of wine truly just a choice, a "healthy" habit, or was it becoming an addiction?
I confess I missed winding down with my glass of red the first few nights, but I was also very relieved to find it wasn't nearly as hard as giving up candy.