Monday, March 25, 2013

Not quite Lent

Somewhere over north or maybe central Florida, we're on our way to visit my wife's folks.  It's rather shameful that we haven't done this much more often, at least since moving away from Florida.  One time won't make up for it, but we're off anyway.

It's a makeup trip, covering for the one I was no way able to make after surgery.  In this case the rescheduling also has the benefit of allowing me to take in a couple of spring training games with my father-in-law.  This will make the trip a raging success no matter what.

The oddity is, of course, that the trip more or less obliterates Holy Week, or a liturgically official observance of it, for us.  We could seek out a Maundy Thursday service, but Good Friday will be spent flying back to Richmond.

In a way this is only fitting, as the onset of chemotherapy more or less obliterated Lent, or what I had thought Lent was going to look like.  I had a balanced plan, so to speak; one thing to give up, one task to take on.  Once chemo kicked in, though, giving up any kind of food gave way to "eat whatever your body tolerates and don't ask questions."  As to the other, frankly, I wasn't in the mood to take up the hymn-writing project I had planned.  I got petulant and junked that plan.  Not my finest hour.  I'm still not all that ready to be terribly penitent about it, though.

Still, I have to admit I've felt the absence of these elementary rituals of the liturgical season.  I won't say it's been ruined or anything quite so melodramatic, but it hasn't been "right" in some way.  There's a noticeable hole.

Rituals matter.  If they didn't exist we would have to invent them.  (And those who claim to scorn or debunk ritual are typically the most ritual-bound people I know even if they don't admit it, so don't go there.)  They mark things, remind us of what means something, and provide a kind of identity for those who observe them.  They provide gathering points in lives that might otherwise remain adrift from one another.

So yes, I've missed Lent.  And I'll miss Holy Week.  I suppose I will be engaged in a kind of healing ritual, though (as cheesy as it sounds baseball games really do function that way for me, when all goes right).  And being with family is not a bad thing, in the right doses (imagine a grinning emoticon here).

In short, no ponderous Lenten reflections here.  I've gotten dislocated, one might say, and yet I still feel its pull.  But there is a promise that Easter is almost ready to explode upon us.  Hope lives anyway.  I can be thankful for that.  The promise of Easter, fortunately, does not rely upon my ability to prepare for it.  That doesn't mean I'm happy about having missed out on it this year.

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