Monday, April 21, 2014

The Weird Thing Is That It Happened On the Last Day of Lent

I don't know about you, but I find Lent sort of tough to get my brain around. Advent is easy. Advent is waiting for a baby; I did that, twice, with my own pregnancies. I am hardwired to understand the preparation, the anticipation, the joyous culmination of a special period of time.

Redemption and resurrection are tougher. When I was a kid, "giving up" something was what everyone did. Every single student at my Catholic middle school gave up something for Lent--chocolate was always popular, but I was more likely to pick popcorn, because my Mom made fabulous popcorn for nighttime snacks--and everyone in my group of friends knew what every other person gave up, so that when our parish nuns invited all the middle school girls to the convent for a short sales pitch on the joys of the sisterhood, and served popcorn, all of my friends looked at me, laughed, and spent the rest of the hour dangling popcorn in front of my face. (It wasn't much temptation; my mother's popcorn was far better than the nuns'.)

Anyway, I understand, metaphorically, why it's good to give something up for Lent, and I understand, too, why it can be physically a good thing. I took a break (gave up) video games this year, because sometimes when my family was talking to me I was playing a game instead of listening, and that's a bad habit. Lent, however, is about drawing closer to God, not about fixing bad habits.

For me, the surprising key to the whole thing was that place at the table. Not the blog post I intended to write, which, to be honest, was probably more intellectual. The one I did write, after I suddenly recalled being at my friend's house and seeing that place set, remembering how welcome I'd felt, how loved. If you can imagine that feeling only a hundred times more, a million times more, that's God welcoming us to God's table.

All of us.

Every one.

Despite our frailties, our insecurities, our lack of empathy, kindness, and compassion. Whether we voted Republican or Democrat or didn't vote at all. Fat or thin. Short or tall. Despite our persistent crankiness, our neediness, our outsized egos, or what have you. No matter where we stand on abortion. Our whole imperfect selves.

Every single one.

I can't tell you how strange this seems to me, to remember that happy joyous feeling from 33 years ago and, now, think, that's how welcome you are, you, yourself, at the table of the Word.

Every single day.