Lent: It’s Not About the Numbers

 

Time is passing quickly: we are approaching the third Sunday of Lent. Well into the 40 days, I realize I have not made, never mind met, any Lenten intentions this year. This omission reminds me of an airport story. Some time ago I was specifically told to go to Departures at the terminal even though I was collecting arriving passengers. But I drove straight to Arrivals where I found myself wandering around with a dead phone, no less,  because although I’d remembered to recharge the phone, I’d driven off without it, being Not Digitally Born. There was no way to connect with the cold, hungry, tired arriving party; no way to connect to what was supposed to have been. At nearly mid-Lent, I’m there again.

This realization comes on slowly.  Something doesn’t feel quite right. The weather is a long parade of cold, gray days. World news is depressing. Some people are taking new things on or giving other things up for Lent, but others are going forward into another day of sameness. We are thankful for the calm routine of daily life yet at the same time, we long for warm weather and change. Some people are counting the days until Easter. Others, like me, are too mixed up to count. Many of us yell at ourselves when we fail to count.

Here’s an example of my current mind fog. Recently the rich liturgical words Septuageisma, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima floated into my post marsh walk consciousness. Very mistakenly, given that it’s nearly Lent 3, I wondered if we were approaching one of those Sundays with the wonderful names. A few seconds on Google showed me, of course, that these occur before Lent begins. My English father-in-law loved these Sundays, churchman that he was, and explained them to me multiple times. Now I had to learn again they count down to Easter on a roughly daily basis, not weekly: 70, 60, 50…the most accurate one being Quinquagesima, since that means fifty if one includes Easter which, of course, one should.

Forty days of Lent this year puts Quinquagesima Sunday way back on March 6, a mere 18 days ago but already lost in my slim mind. Yesterday I read a blog post reminding us that tomorrow, March 25th, is the Feast of the Annunciation, 9 months before Christmas as we await Easter.

All of which is to say:

Dad, I miss you. I really do.

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