Wednesday, March 01, 2006

fat tuesday, ash wednesday

one of the things i love most about my life as a christian is the way that the rhythms of the liturgical year shape time for me. until i began my conversion to christianity (which i would actually say is an on-going project, i'm realizing of late) at about the age of 32, all but about five years of my life had been tied to the academic calendar. there was the year between college and graduate school, the two years between my high school teaching career and law school, and the two years i clerked for a judge after law school. but even four of those five were really still tied to the academic calendar, because julie was a teacher even when i wasn't.

now, julie is still a teacher, and my daughter goes to school too, so my life is still very much shaped by the academic calendar. but that version of the year -- summer vacation, back-to-school, first semester, winter break, second semester, the long midwinter doledrums, spring break, the endless weeks to summer, end-of-school-year insanity, and finally summer vacation again -- that year is only one of the ways that my family and i mark time. the liturgical year -- the pregnant waiting of advent, the candle-lit festival of the incarnation that is christmas, the quiet insights of epiphany, the introspection and discipline of lent, the joyous festival of the resurection that is easter, the celebration of the birth of the church in all its diversity at pentecost, and the weeks and weeks and weeks of "ordinary time" (i love that phrase) -- it is this year, more and more, that gives time shape and meaning, especially my interior time, that on-going becoming that is my spiritual work.

i've always loved cusps; friends who are into astrology would probably say that's because i'm a virgo on the cusp of libra. while other folks dread the begining of the school year, or the disruption to their daily schedule of a school vacation, i've always loved these times. it's partly the "clean slate" aspect of it -- the school clothes all clean and new, the empty note books, the newly sharpened pencils, all laid out in hopeful expectation. but there's something else about those times too, which is hard to describe, but which somehow draws me deeper into the sacred, illuminates for me god-in-the-world. my absolute favorite time of parenting, hands down, is the first few weeks with a newborn, a time frought for most with anxiety and sleep deprivation, but which for me, twice, were the most luminous times of my life, full of mystery and wonder.

so here we are on the cusp of one of my favorite family traditions and one of my favorite liturgical seasons. yesterday was "donut day" in the tradition of julie's family (a tradition i have whole-heartedly embraced!). lots of home-made, deep-fat-fried, sugar glazed goodness shared with good friends going on at the wide tent last night.... mmmmm. and then this morning, the left-over dunuts bagged up and stashed in the freezer, we begin our 40 days in the wilderness. i just love this day, my senses all heightend, my whole life feeling like a prayer. it will inevitably wear off, and by the time holy week rolls around, the discipline of lent will no doubt be wearing thin.

and then there's easter. it's a good life.


At March 02, 2006 11:29 AM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I'd love to hear about how you observe Lent, besides putting the doughnuts in the freezer. (Hey, I haven't started Lent yet....can I come get some of those doughnuts? ;-)

At March 03, 2006 11:10 AM, Blogger Jo said...

Summer (at was talking about this too, that turning of the yearly ritual wheel and how it colors your daily life. I love to read about these things. I crave ritual, yet I'm still searching for the thing that speaks to me.


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