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Home truths: Not giving up on Lent

Kate Moriarty  |  18 February 2020

Do you have an Easter tradition? Some people hunt for eggs, some people go to Mass. Me? Every year at Easter, I beat myself up for not doing a good Lent.

It’s complicated. I love Lent. It’s such a simple and prayerful time. Forty days is enough time to beta-test a new prayer habit. I always imagine becoming the holiest version of myself. But it never seems to work out that way.

I try hard, I really do, it’s just that, when it comes to holiness, I’m a bit of a slow learner. I give up coffee, but it turns me into a terrible person. I try to do a reflection, but by the time I’ve found the Bible and a candle and looked up the readings for Sunday and convinced my children to sit still, six weeks have passed and it’s Good Friday already. I think I need to take a special class, where things are broken down and made simple for me. I think I need some specialised learning-aids.

In the meantime, I’ve put together a few ideas for easy-cooking, ready-made Lent. A remedial student’s guide to holiness.

Podcasts. Podcasts are great. I can listen to them while I wash dishes, hang clothes out and successfully ignore my children. And there are plenty of podcasts to help with prayer. Audio Divinia gives the readings for next Sunday, along with a reflection by a theologian. I wouldn’t need to find a bible or know the Sunday readings. And I might actually hear a homily for once.

Prayer pegs. This is like a memory trick. I will take something that happens every day and use it as a reminder for prayer. So, every time my twelve-year-old complains that life is unfair that the whole system is unfair, I could pray for peace in our world, peace, indeed, in my kitchen. Every time I send my four-year-old to the naughty step for pulling my other four-year-old’s hair, I could pray for all those who are isolated and in prison. Every time my seven-year-old insists on playing with that impossibly cheerful yet oddly passive aggressive ‘Bop It!’ contraption, I could pray the toy breaks immediately and beyond repair.

Pray to Mary for help. She gets it. I know she does.

Floor tantrum meditation. OK, so this is an idea I’m playing with. My youngest daughter is still prone to tantrums. And her twin sister often joins her out of a sense of solidarity. Thus, much of my day is spent dealing with two little girls lying on the floor and bewailing the injustice of a mother who makes them wear pants. But here’s what I’m thinking: maybe they’re not sugared-up megalomaniacs. Maybe what they are doing is prostrating themselves in prayer. The next time I discover my twins in frustration prostration, I’m going to get down on the floor, play some Taizé music off my phone speakers, and meditate with them. The other customers and security staff at Harvey Norman might feel a little bewildered, but I can always just tune them out.

I’m not saying these ideas are the ideal. You might be really good at holiness. You might have Lent down, producing meat-free culinary delights every Friday and never losing your Project Compassion box behind the couch. If so, I’m happy for you, really I am. But if, like me, you find yourself struggling to keep focus, maybe give these prayer hacks a try.

In the meantime, my four-year-old has discovered I used the wrong colour spoon for her breakfast and has taken to the floor for some shrieking contemplation. I might join her in this unconventional form of prayer. And I’m not going to beat myself up anymore. Because there’s more than one way to be holy

 

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