My So-Called Lent


Every year I feel compelled to write a few words about Lent. I enjoy the season, and mostly any season like this, a time to set aside for some thought that might sustain me for the rest of the year. It’s not a spiritual exercise, at least to me; the point is to create the environment for spiritual growth, whatever that means to you.

I don’t really have those words, but just because it’s been busy. It’s not like I have this list of Lenten projects I’ve completed every year, with scrapbooks and everything. I mostly think of things. I understand the temptation to sacrifice something that might be getting in the way of personal growth, like television or porn or ice cream (not ice cream). I never manage to think of something in time, and I think that way a lot anyway. What to change, how to change, when to change.

But I have a healthy respect for the tradition, however it’s practiced and for whatever reason. I will go to the Ash Wednesday service. I will read from Isaiah. I will think about my life, and what I want it to be. My stomach will probably growl because, you guys, you have no idea how hungry I am these days, with all of this busyness. Crazy. I seriously ate a whole box of Samoas the other day. Insane.

But wait, Lent. Right. Settle down.

So I’m not going to write about Lent, except to say that maybe I’ll come up with something. I do try to focus.

Yesterday my friend was moved to the skilled nursing facility that might be his home for a few weeks, in between surgeries. He’s complaining a lot, which I suppose is a good sign; not about pain or discomfort, just trivial things. Too much noise. Russian nurses. A clock that ticks a little too loud.

And then he laughs and understands. I’d be irritable, too, stuck in bed for two weeks, with weeks to go. He asked me to smuggle in some Tylenol, as the nursing staff apparently can take their sweet time and this is a guy who needs it when he asks for it, which is dumb but what can you do? He finally agreed to take the oxycodone at night to see if he can at least sleep, but otherwise he just wants acetaminophen.

It’s a bit of a hassle, too, although it’s not just his situation. His situation is unique, emergent, critical, important, unusual, and primary, at least to me. It’s everything else. And even though I certainly can’t complain to my wife, who never stops moving, I’m aware that I’ve become a little overwhelmed. I can’t even count the round trips I made down to Harborview. I think I spent $100 at least on parking, so that’s a clue.

And now he’s closer, but I often don’t have a car so that’s some time right there, even though it’s an easy bus ride and then a little walk, which I can always use.

Today, too, I have to get down south to Renton for a meeting at 4pm, then there’s the service at 7pm. I have another rental car I need to return tonight or tomorrow, just rented for the day because it’s a crazy one. I don’t know how I’m going to get him his Tylenol stash.

And there we are. As rushed and hectic as it’s been, I feel more alive and energetic than I have in weeks. It’s not just having things to do; it’s having things that don’t involve a screen and a keyboard. So this tells me something.

So I think I’ll just post here during Lent, stay away from Facebook and the rest. I won’t swear to stay away and not look, because there’s always something interesting to see, but I need to focus on what’s important, if only because it makes me feel better, and that seems important enough.

Chuck SigarsComment