March 4, Feast of St. Casimir, patron of Poland, Lithuania, bachelors, kings, and princes; also, Shrove Tuesday.
Today, we ate chocolate chip pancakes slathered in pure maple syrup, butter, and Nutella and lapped up the left-overs with pan-fried, greasy bacon. What can I say? I like to put the "fat" in Fat Tuesday.
Nothing like waiting 'til the last minute to prepare for Lent. Those who follow regularly know we're in the middle of an overseas move. When I woke up this morning and the full weight of 40 days could no longer be pushed aside and filed into the back of my mind, I almost panicked. I've hardly given a thought to my Lenten plans, other than to half-heartedly resolve to the traditional Byzantine fast again. I'm already anticipating the stress and bustle of the move weakening that resolve. (Defeatist, much?) And that makes my anxiety spike almost instantaneously. I have to have a good start to something. You see, I'm the worst kind of perfectionist--the kind that would rather not even start a project I won't master. What a control freak! It's a good thing Holy Mother Church doesn't depend on my readiness, nor does God's grace.
So I sort-of prayed. The kind of SOS prayer that is more of a sending out of emotional feelers, and God responded very quickly, and very clearly, with a wordless answer:
Peace so often escapes me, and why should it? It's there for the asking. If only I wouldn't get in my own way and let anxiety control me. I didn't choose a word of the year in January, but I can be late to the party. The Harry Potter book club is honing in on love this season, but I see no reason why peace shouldn't be my larger theme for 2014. Peace and love can't exist without one another, so much so that they've become a platitude to slap on with a bumper sticker. The truest, most obvious things are often the things we take for granted.
I'm still going to attempt fasting, because it did me good last year, but I'm choosing to make "peace" my overall focus during Lent. Peace. Stillness. Resting in the bosom of God. Stopping whatever I'm doing when I feel the anxiety begin to mount, to look at my precious son and will myself to be here. Why am I getting stressed? I'm alive, and the sun keeps rising, and the oranges are blossoming, and there's salt in the ocean and snow in the Arctic, and the world is wonderful-wonderful! I'm much, much too young to be in a constant crisis-panic-survival mode. What gives, anyway? If all one has to do is reach out and pluck happiness like a fruit, why wouldn't he? I'm going to at least try.
As for the rest of my Lenten spirituality, I aim to let it ebb and flow from peace. Maybe I'll get in the meditations and spiritual readings; maybe I'll make it to Mass more than once a week; maybe I'll even grow in virtue and in discipline. The only thing I do know for sure is that I won't get very far with any of that without peace.
Be still, and know that I am God.