Lent is approaching and my heart feels heavy.
I remember my complaints of one particular year:  “Lent seems to follow much too closely on the heels of Christmas. Sigh! Sigh!” But a friend told me how she was really excited by the coming season: “Lent is such a time of grace. It is such a wonderful opportunity to move closer to God.” And since then, I have always tried to remember her wise words.
It is not the thought of what I will be giving up for 40 days which worries me. I will probably miss my occasional glass of red wine and my chocolate but I know the Feast of Easter will arrive after our season of fasting. And a feast is always enhanced by a fast.
And it is not the thought of making other sacrifices which causes me to become anxious. We are all looking forward to getting out the Lenten sacrifice bean jar on Ash Wednesday. I will enjoy joining my family as they try to surprise others with acts of kindness. I am looking forward to spending more time with our Lord.  Perhaps we will choose a spiritual book to read around the table. I hope to pray more, both alone and with my husband and children. We will all be looking for ways to earn ourselves a bean to pop in the jar. And hopefully, the jar will be overflowing by the end of Lent. And that will be satisfying work.
No, what is making my heart heavy is the knowledge that we are approaching a time of grief and sorrow. We will be following Jesus along His journey to Calvary and to His death on the cross. We will start on Ash Wednesday with the words we associate with burial, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” and we will finish in silence at the foot of the cross on Good Friday, crying tears of sorrow as Jesus gives up His life for us.
It will be like accompanying a loved one through grief, feeling the sorrow of someone else’s suffering.
Lent brings back all those feelings of grief suffered by myself and my friends. I think about accompanying a friend during her time of suffering.  I suffer too especially because I feel I cannot do much to relieve her pain. But I offer my prayers, my listening ear and my presence and I hope my friend doesn’t feel totally alone. But at times I can feel so useless. But useless or not, I choose to stay close. It is an honour to be allowed to share a friend’s grief. But sometimes I’d rather suffer myself than watch her suffer.
So during Lent, I am willing to travel the path towards Calvary. Once again I will accompany Jesus. I don’t want to avoid this time but I am very aware of how sorrowful the season is. And my heart is heavy.
I think of my friends who are in the Garden of Gethsemane, and those who are shouldering their cross on the road to Calvary, and those who feel crucified by their pain. As we enter Lent, will they feel comforted by the fact that Our Lord is also suffering? Will they add their sufferings to His? And will they rise again from that pit of sorrow, gaining grace and blessings and new life, just as Jesus will rise on Easter Sunday after the Resurrection?
I am sure Lent will seem very long, and at times it will be difficult. But after the grief and sacrifice of Lent comes the great gift of Easter. And so I look ahead with anticipation to Easter Sunday, a day of joy and hope.
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  1. Dear Sue,
    The challenge (and, gulp, blessings) of grief during Lent have been weighing heavily on me this year. Ash Wednesday starts the day before K's diagnosis anniversary, we a have friends who are suffering greatly with health issues right now, and this is a time of year we have had to say goodbye to many dear children we met on the cancer ward. Lord, help me see all of this united to your suffering and walk with you to the cross and keep my eyes on the unspeakable hope of Easter morning.

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  2. Leslie, you understand what I was trying to say. Thank you for sharing your feelings. With prayers. God bless you.

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  3. Hi Sue, just wanted to stop by to say hello. What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. I hope you all are doing well. God bless!

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  4. SO good to hear from you Tanya! Thank you for sharing my story. I will email and share our news. God bless.

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  5. Hi Sue, I can hardly believe Lent is upon us myself. I like your idea of the Lenten sacrifice bean jar. How do you use it? For acts of kindness? Or when you're giving up something? I'm curious to know more.

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  6. Hi Noreen! We have a bowl of beans and a large glass jar which we place on our family altar. We use lima beans because we like their size. We did plan to soak them in a purple dye to give them a Lenten look but we never got around to it. One year we used large kidney beans. If the beans are too small, it seems to take ages to fill up the jar! We can all take a bean from the bowl and place it in the jar whenever we make a sacrifice: say an extra prayer, do an extra job, deny ourselves something, give up our time for others etc. Sometimes my kids race to 'earn a bean' by doing someone else's job off the chores roster before the person does it herself. It is good to set out to do a job and find it already done by some kind sibling. The only rules are secrecy. No one tells what they have done and they add beans to the jar when no one is looking. Our aim is to fill the jar before Easter. One year we allocated a monetary value to each bean. On Good Friday, we counted the beans and then worked out how much they were worth and gave the money as alms. Lots of words: hope I explained that so you understand!!!

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