I grew up in a very strict observing Catholic family. Making Lent a four letter word to me. As a youth it meant no fun, no food and lots and lots of Mass. I mean lots! Not really something I looked forward to every year, not that many children and teenagers do. I must say I didn't even like lent as a young adult. It was such a burden to sign up for Eucharistic Adoration. I have a litany of reasons why I dreaded the season. Let's start with fish on Friday. Back then that was tuna casserole or tuna croquettes. I'm gagging just thinking about it. I would have killed for a McDonalds fish sandwich... Fast food wasn't that mainstream yet. That was for special occasions in the Lindo household. Then all my allowance had to go into that purple Lenten offering box we brought home from school, folded together and put on the kitchen table. Every Friday we also did Stations of The Cross after school, we had to give up television one weekend day a week, and the icing on my Lenten nightmare… Saying the Rosary every night after I was tired and stuffed with dinner. I Confess, (that was every Saturday morning by the way) Easter could not come soon enough. What in the world does a kid have to confess once a week? Okay, okay so I put my brother in the dryer and turned it on… he's fine! While growing up, when Lent came time stood still. It was excruciatingly painful!
Spirituality is an interesting journey. It snares us all at different stages/ages. My mother had started taking vows and was planning on being a nun during high school when my father put the kibosh on that. Thank Goodness or where would I be! Even with all that Catholicism, I'm a Gemini Gypsy and I grew up shall we say having more fun than my parents ever knew. But somewhere along the way the park closed at Disney World. Life began to unfold and it was hard! I will warn you that sometime, something will happen in your life that makes you turn to a spiritual answer. Hopefully the big guy doesn't have to throw a bolder on you like he did me and a few knocks will wake you up. Whether it's the anxiety of parenthood, a child that is seriously sick, death of a loved one, loss of a job, betrayal, prison, a horrible accident…. Something knocks you to your knees where you have to stop and listen and hear him talking to you. Seems like God has been trying to get my attention for quite some time. Finally, at midlife I want to hear what he has to say. No, that's a lie, I desperately need to hear what he has to say. I finally called 'Uncle' and admitted that I couldn't do it all myself. I needed advice and help getting through this thing called real life. Where do I find this life line to peace? Darn if it isn't that season of Lent, coincidence? I doubt it. For those who aren't Catholic I know there are times of spiritual renewal in your religions where God is calling (maybe even shouting). Want some advice? I recommend answering sooner rather than later and surrendering. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter what anyone says. You won't go to him or hear him until the time is right for you.
Growing up with Catholic guilt means I've missed Sunday Mass maybe, maybe a total of 5 times my entire life. Including the birth of my kids, chickenpox twice, and strep in college. Of course, now I attend Mass out of desire not guilt or ritual obligation. I take the guilt, the worries, and the fear and give it to someone who can do something about it every Sunday. Think about it? All the stuff that piles up on you throughout the year. An overbooked calendar, constant emails, some noise always blaring… the radio, television, the ding of my phone, the dogs, someone yelling mom, worrying about the safety of my teenagers, my husband, our parents getting older, etc. Oh, and the incoming bills after holiday stress. I've gone full circle. I can't wait for Ash Wednesday, when I can stop the insanity! Somehow God makes it all stop. When I get those ashes on my forehead it's the beginning of my Spiritual Spa. I give up the distracting noises, excess food and all that stuff that always keeps me bogged down. I visit the big guy several times a week and get filled up with loving inspiration, that I only get fueled with on Sundays other times of year. I read more scripture and go to retreats to talk to him and to listen. What used to be my nightmare is now my saving grace. How does that happen? How does something you hate become something you love and cherish? My love for Lent is only a few years old. I can't even put into words this place that I go to. I look forward to Easter now because I know what I feel like after lent. And I LOVE that feeling! There is a catch though, low and behold God gives me just enough strength to make it to the next season of Lent. I come to him every year at the end of my rope with doubts and anxiety trying to wrestle me down. I now know my Catholic Lenten rituals are my steps out of the dark hole life can suck us into. Thank you mom and dad for giving me the key to renew my spiritual health. I finally unlocked one of the greatest gifts of my faith, Lent!
Keep looking forward so you don't miss what God puts in front of ya!
Matuschka's Midlife... Telling it like it is...