It has not been an infrequent comment of incredulity received when I suggest I am more appreciative of the church season of Lent as opposed to Advent.
The Four Sundays of Advent prepare us for Christmas whereas Lent is 40 days (not counting Sundays which are considered mini-Easters) meant to prepare us for Christ’s Passion.
Really, what’s to compare with Christmas gift giving and the birth of the Savior versus forty days of prayer, fasting, alms giving, and penance? Not unusual for me to get a bit of a side eye on this one.
To be perfectly honest I am not entirely certain I can adequately explain my bias. My Brenda loved Christmas more than I can put into words. Advent was for the pulling out tubs of decorations, wall and mantle art, and so many strings of lights, I would inevitably say something stupid like, “For our house or the neighbors?”
For over 47 years Brenda dragged me, however begrudging, into a grateful appreciation for Christmas preparation. If for no other reason than it made her so happy. Our decorations were always up two weeks longer than anyone else because Brenda was raised Orthodox, so Ukrainian Christmas was celebrated on the Julian Calendar.
My Lenten bias has certainly nothing do to Brenda’s Christmas passions, not at all. Rather, I think it has more to do with my seasonal need for a religion that is more vertical than horizontal.
When Brenda and I would travel throughout Italy, our first visit would invariably be the local cathedral – the Byzantine example of St Mark’s in Venice was a favorite. Or the Basilicas of Rome (there are four). Sitting in such a vaulted place of worship made it so evident why such spaces were constructed for an uneducated population. It communicated God. Brenda would typically walk oﬀ for a period allowing me time to journal reflecting on how this space communicated the Holy.
Trinity Lutheran obviously communicates the Holy every Sunday by the joy demonstrated in its exquisite ability to make space for everyone.
Lent does this for me. For lack of better language, it is, for me, a vertical season. Without question there is a joy in the community anticipation and gathering during the Christmas Season. I do truly love it, especially now that I am a grandfather. (Remind me sometime to share with you my favorite Christmas memory when our children were 3, 4 and 6.)
But whereas Advent is beautifully busy, Lent is quieter. It is for me more reflective and my soul, for this one season, appreciates time for that personal vertical discipline. Hence, journaling will have a diﬀerent spirit during this Lenten Journey.
Without failure every entry will begin with, “What do I need to learn?”
I believe, in this manic world, every soul looks for that “vaulted” space. Feel free to share yours with me. My email address is included, and I would count it as grace to hear from you.
You are my friends whom I love,