By Missy Morain
I tried to skip Lent this year. It wasn’t entirely intentional. There wasn’t any conscious thought to it. I went to the Ash Wednesday service, got my ashes, and even led the Litany of Penitence from the center aisle of the National Cathedral. Yet my head was never really in it and I let other aspects of my life take over. I never came up with something to give up or to add into my day. Somehow living 1,000 miles away from my brother using my teenage standby of “I will get along with my brother” didn’t seem heartfelt or appropriate. Little did I know that Lent would catch up with me.
On the Saturday before Palm Sunday I awoke to phone call from my father telling me that my grandfather had gone into a coma. Around dinner time my mother called to tell me that my grandfather had died. I wasn’t surprised by either phone call. My grandfather was 94 years old and nothing at that age is really unexpected. Unlike the death of Jesus, Papa’s was relatively painless and peaceful, surrounded by people who loved him.
Quickly the mechanics of gathering a large family from across the country began. Life took over again. The details of arranging plane tickets, delayed flights, planning work coverage, getting on a plane, seeing my brother and sisters all took over the space which I could have created to begin grieving, to begin feeling. Allowing me to put aside what my mind and body were telling me to pay attention to.
I arrived in Iowa and went through the motions, attending the visitation and the funeral, even reading part of the family written obituary. Hearing those around me crying yet unwilling to break that barrier myself until I returned to Washington, DC the day after the funeral. Something broke inside me and I finally began to cry. For me Lent had finally begun.
Easter Sunday came only four days after my grandfather’s funeral. I had every intention of going to Easter service but couldn’t walk in the door when the time came. I wasn’t ready for the resurrection. I wasn’t ready to celebrate and say “alleluia, Christ has risen”.
Funny thing about the resurrection is that much like Lent it comes regardless of whether I am ready for it or not. Life works in cycles much like that of the liturgical year. Birth and death and renewal occur whether I am paying attention to them or not. The liturgical calendar of the church helps me to remember this and to remember that there is a point where I will feel ready to celebrate the resurrection again. I might not be there quite yet, and that is just fine, but it gives me hope to know that I will be ready eventually. Ready to say “Good Papa Fred” and hello to the new life, to the resurrection that surrounds me.
Missy Morain is program coordinator at the Cathedral College at Washington National Cathedral. She blogs at Episcopal Princess.