Thoughts on Lent and head covering from a non-Catholic, non-Fundamentalist, Emergence Church Lady.
The first time I really knew much about Lent I was a Senior in high school and our Catholic neighbor and dear friend was pregnant and talking about whether or not she was required to Fast on Ash Wednesday. So, in a FRIENDS, Joey-is-a-temporary-vegetarian stroke of genius, I decided that I would honor all of the Fasting involved in Lent so she wouldn’t have to. Cause Jesus. Or something. Ya’ll, I had very sound, heavily researched theology back in 1999. So I fasted on Ash Wednesday. I ate an entire box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese at 11:45 on Tuesday and then set my alarm to wake me up at midnight to eat after the day was over, but I still did it. I (usually) remembered to not eat meat on Fridays. I gave up all caffeine. EVEN CHOCOLATE. I think I mostly wanted to just see if I could do it. It was a decidedly not-that-spiritual exercise. One I have continued with varying degrees of meaning over the past 15 years.
Which reminds me, that baby is now in high school herself. What the what?!
This week we had our Ash Wednesday service at Vintage Fellowship. As always, it was quiet and simple and beautiful. Getting my ashes always chokes me up a little bit. As does taking communion while I hold Samuel. I’m filled with gratitude that our son was born into this particular community of Believers. Robb (our Pastor/Narrator) talked a little about Lenten goals often being self-reflective and about yourself.
“If I give up chocolate I can lose a few pounds!”
This year, he encouraged us to contemplate what sacrifices we could make that would involve our community. How could we use Lent to reach out to our neighbors? It was an interesting prospect to me since I honestly can’t think of any good that would come from yet another experiment in deprivation. I’ve given up caffeine so many times for Lent that it feels trite. My hard-headed baby has not been sleeping very well lately because he hates to sleep and also is attempting to do rude things like grow teeth like a big kid. So you can pry my two morning cups of coffee out of my cold, dead hands. Adding something into my day like a devotional time or exercising (HA!) just feels overwhelming to me at this phase in my ever-fluctuating adjustment as stay-at-home mom. So I began to think about my neighbors. I’ve had a nagging idea for a while that I wanted to give one pair of neighbors a gift of a “Baked Good of the Month” service for an entire year and bake them something once a month. I just haven’t been able to jump in and commit to it because I’m afraid I won’t feel like it one month and I’ll fail and let them down when I’ve promised it already. I think I am going to start small and do an extra loaf of bread in the bread machine each week during Lent to give to a neighbor. We do have some great neighbors. Maybe it will jump start my baking spirit!
The other part of Lent for me this year has been building for a while. About 6 months ago I ran into a lady while grocery shopping who was wearing a bonnet and plain dress. I asked her about it, curious if she was Church of the Brethren or Mennonite etc. and we chatted for a bit. I actually don’t remember much of our conversation. What I do remember was walking back to my car and thinking, “I should head cover for Lent!” I’ve thought about it a lot the last few months but I never could think of an actual reason to do it. A reminder to pray all day or some show of submission or an exercise in modesty. I didn’t want to be doing it just to be doing it. <—I am so good with words. But nothing came to me so I let it go.
Thursday morning at my weekly ladies’ coffee date I mentioned that maybe I should do it anyway and just see what happens. Maybe there is a reason it has been on my mind so much. With a little enthusiasm from a friend I decided to go ahead and give it a try. Maybe I’ll learn something in the next 37 days.