That is the question someone asked me last year when a series of traumatic things had happened in her life during the first part of Lent, and it struck me as odd because I had been so consumed with the Lenten season. It would be like asking, "Is this winter?" while surrounded by 12 inches of snow.
Now I understand, maybe, what she meant. This Lenten season has been more filled with colds than church services, nausea than fasting, and listlessness than ascesis. My father confessor told me it's just a different kind of Lent for me, and as such, it, too is a gift. So far I'm having a hard time seeing it that way, perhaps because it seems like much less of a choice than my other Lenten endeavors have been.
First, I think I may have taken on too much at the very beginning. Before my morning sickness kicked in, I volunteered to compile the student/staff directory that has been overdue since the fall AND be the "go-to girl" for the Wednesday evening potluck dinners after Pre-Sanctified Liturgy. The first was hard work, but rather quickly over. The second will continue until the end of Lent, and we're now in our second week of having no one volunteer to "host." Guess who hosts by default?
This is the second weekend (not in a row) that I've spent mostly resting or in bed. My husband has been gone both times, which shows the remarkable self-entertaining abilities of my children. They have been fantastic, but I know they can't wait for Papi to come home tonight (me either!)
Last weekend, I took my husband and older daughter (aged 4 1/2) to the subway station so they could ride into the city and see an El Greco art exhibit. Younger daughter and I stayed home, and I wasn't sure older daughter would handle it well, but she did. The exciting part of the trip (for her) was getting posters of two of El Greco's "icons." The exciting part of the trip (for me) was getting stuck in the heavy, wet snow while trying to parallel park on the street when I went to pick them up from the subway station. Believe it or not, in New York City, I was rescued by two young guys who appeared with shovels at the moment of my distress, who offered to dig me out for free. It seemed so appointed, so I let them!
The next day we visited a parish in New Jersey that had sponsored us for the St. Nicholas Project at Christmas (sent us some gifts). We wanted to thank them personally. It turns out that we were there on their priest's first Sunday back from a hospital stay, and he actually had a visiting priest celebrate the liturgy. People began recognizing us from the pictures I had sent them of the girls opening their presents, and by the time we got downstairs for coffee hour, we were literally besieged with greetings and hugs and kisses. We almost never made it to our seats! When we did, we had to move right away because the priests wanted to chat with us. I was trying to engage in that conversation while keeping one eye on our girls, but I soon found that I had nothing to worry about on that front, as friendly parishioners stepped in and talked with them, later giving them paper and markers to color with, and eventually they even played hide-and-seek with the Matushka! It was the warmest welcome we have ever received in a parish, hands down. They even had the thank-you letter and pictures I sent set up on a three-panel display board in the coffee hour hall area.
Other than that, I guess we're plodding along. Pray for me, a sinner.