Alright, it is check in time: how is Lent going? Am I more faithful to the Gospel? Am I growing in charity? If you are like me, this is about that time when Lent can start to become a bit tedious. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Prayer, fasting, almsgiving, I got it. Wait, we’re still focusing on that? Oh no, I think it’s going to continue! Ah! We aren’t even half done with it all yet! Can’t we move on to something else now? I’m ready to eat chocolate again…” Ok, that may be a bit exaggerated, but I think you see my point: Lent isn’t very exciting.
Nor is it meant to be – it is a trip into the desert.
The boredom of Lent, though, makes sense when we persevere. One of the famous Mother Teresa quotes goes, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.”
Lent isn’t about doing great things; it is about small, daily gifts of love even in the boredom. These daily gifts, over time, become something quite special. They become something magnificent. Of course, that is really easy to doubt while we are still in the desert. What’s so special about the little things?
When I entered the Dominicans in 2010, one of my sisters mailed me a card. The next week she sent another. And then another. At first it was quite exciting – who gets cards in the mail these days? And so many! She told me she was going to keep sending them every week and I must confess that I was curious to see if she really would. I didn’t doubt that she loves me, but that didn’t mean she would keep it up.
It is 2015 now, and I have over 200 cards in piles and binders stored in my room. I spent a summer in Indonesia – and she sent me cards. I went to Spain for a Spanish immersion program – and got cards there. (Yes, Hallmark loves her.) What is perhaps even more remarkable is that all but 3 or 4 are different. I have a lot of “unbirthday” cards that have been edited by hand. She also crosses out curse words as a courtesy should an otherwise funny card have one or two.
Now, sending a card is not a particularly extraordinary act by any means. Sending one every week for four and a half years, however, is something remarkable. I don’t think I could ever doubt her love for a moment. I am blessed to see every week how dearly she loves me and I treasure it. Yes, it is ordinary. I don’t imagine it was exciting for her every week. I imagine when she is busy it probably becomes another thing she has to do (ah! I’m out of stamps!). After all, they do come late some weeks.* They always come, though, and I know it is almost always a weekly treat for both of us.
This is the heart of Lent. A few extra minutes in prayer, daily acts of kindness, routine small sacrifices, etc. rarely seem like much. They are just a bunch of little things and they can get quite dull. Give it time though. Keep doing them. Stay in the desert and let your love bloom when the time is right. The first few cards aren’t much, but 200 later, they are a sight to behold.
*T: Since I know you are reading this – you had a few weeks in a row that they got here on Monday and not the usual Thursday. You are back on track now. Love you. :)