When Bourbon Street woke up Wednesday morning, awash in color and liquor, it was Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. The day we were supposed to begin our preparations for Easter.
Everyone had something to say about Lent, about what we should give up, trade in, or add to our routines. But this year, I couldn’t think of a thing to say about Lent. So I said nothing.
Until I figured out that this Lent doesn’t feel like Lent at all because I am preparing for a coming. This Lent feels like Advent.
During Advent, we quiet down and clear our schedules to observe the waiting days before Jesus’ birth. My son’s birth won’t land during the church calendar’s Advent, but it feels this way nonetheless. The slowing, the quieting, the waiting.
But it’s not all quiet here, and it sure wasn’t as Mary and Joseph prepared for Jesus. There was no painting a nursery. No baby showers. No registries. Just one long, bumpy ride out of her hometown with her future husband to a town they barely knew. (The Bible doesn’t exactly say she rode a donkey, although that’s the tradition. But let’s say she didn’t. That would mean she walked, right? Whether by donkey or on foot, that Mary was hardcore. But we Mamas do what we gotta do.)
I am not riding a donkey, walking hundreds of miles or taking any sort of long trip with a full-term baby. If I compare myself to Mary, I’ve got it easy. But here in my Advent, there are plenty of obstacles to pass through and obsess over. Between a few health risks, baby currently in breech position and all the headstands I’m doing to turn him, writing regularly and finishing the book, plus coordinating finances and care for our kiddos once our family of three turns into four, there is plenty to agonize over.
And yet, I just don’t have the energy for it. I go to work every day, I take on one project or event at night, and early evening finds me horizontal, unable to prop up my eyelids any longer.
I know my to-do list is a mile long, and if I wanted, I could fret about the big and the small finishing touches I want on my life before #2 arrives. But what I would rather do is slow down, sleep more, enjoy my family just as it is. I want to treasure the last few moments where my John is the only child, where his antics and laughter are the only sounds made by children in my home.
I want him to know I love him like crazy, and I want to take him in. Just as he is, with his still-chubby fingers and his sweet voice and his mispronounced words, his karate chops and bed-jumping and careening down the hall, fists out in front, his Superman cape waving behind.
I will never again have this time to pay full attention to his three-year old self, to enjoy him and soak him up. And I want to be there for all of it.
It turns out that waiting for something is not just a countdown, an empty space between two points. The waiting is a thing in itself. A season longing for acknowledgement, capable of being loved and appreciated for what it offers, with its own events and rituals.
Waiting is rich indeed.
So if this year, your Lent is really an Advent, or something else entirely, don’t worry about matching your life to the church calendar. Instead, be fully present wherever you are, with whomever is with you. Love them well. Let God love you through them. And live grateful that so much goodness found its way into your life. Isn’t that the point anyway?
My eBook, My Birthright For Soup, is all about choosing hope instead of fear while we wait. And I’m giving it away FREE to subscribers. Click here to join the movement of wildly hopeful people who every day live with dreams and purpose.