The other night I told my husband that I really like Lent best of all seasons of the church calendar, certainly more than Christmas. When he asked why, I said it's because I just can't seem to identify with all the "hooray, baby Jesus was born and life is great" sentiment. Not that it's not important in its own right, but Christmas in all its commerciality and red/green/gold glitterati makes me feel a bit empty. I prefer instead the hollowed out wasteland of Lent, with its emphasis on suffering and letting go.
As I thought about it today, I think that's because--as opposed to what I "should be learning"--I know deep down that I'm a pretty selfish and greedy person. I want what I want, and hate to have the routines of my life altered, especially by anything that remotely smacks of growing. As much as I say I'm looking forward to Lent, and giving something up for 40 days to "identify with Christ's suffering", I know deep down that 48 hours in I'll be pining and stroppy and looking for any excuse to let myself out of the Lent promise I've so grandly made.
Somewhere deep down I think I'm better than, smarter than, or more mature than my kids, but in actual fact I'm just like them. I don't really want to grow, I want to be comfortable. I don't want to learn, I want my life to keep ticking over smoothly and not have to think about it. Which is why every year I have a crisis where I realise I'm absolutely bottomed out and desperate. And then, and only then, do I see the point of Lent. And that's when I realise too that I like it.
This might be a masochistic or martyrish streak, similar to why I embrace marathon running or natural childbirth. But no, it's what we are made for, I think--to identify with the very desperate nature of our souls and see that in doing so we also find their very source of life. In acknowledging a grief we become open to healing. In contemplating the suffering of the Cross and the tomb, we see too the stone that will soon be rolled away.
Another plus, of course, is that you don't have to decorate for Lent. But that's another story.