Lent Me Some Patience

March 9, 2011 at 5:25 pm 4 comments

Not coming from a particularly church-going family, I don’t usually observe Lent. This morning, guided by a tweet from my friend Ellen, I read a blog post about why this guy loves Ash Wednesday. While I’ve always thought of Lent as an opportunity to give up a comfort in order to test yourself and your faith, he said something that blew my mind a little:

Lent is not about self-flagellation, but it is about penitence. Penitence isn’t very fashionable these days, but that does not diminish its importance. We have all messed up. Badly. And we need to say we’re sorry — to God and to one another.

After having a pretty ugly fight with NJS this morning, this definitely hit home. The fight was about a topic we’ve been visiting often lately, and with a great deal of tension. It has to do with how much I struggle emotionally in winter, how the meanness of cramped city attitude wears my soul down to a nub, how the crippling expense of living here can steal your dreams and drown them in high rents, and how desperately I miss spring in March, streets lined with Dogwood treees, grits, sweet tea, and people who smile and say “y’all.”

Lately all of these things have turned me into a Negative Nellie, if you want to put a cute name on a real problem. I’m critical and dismissive of just about everything around me, and while it’s lead to some pretty witty barbs, I’ll admit, it’s also dragging me and NJS and anyone who has to listen to me down. It makes NJS feel like he’s the bad guy for keeping me here in Boston, while I feel like the bad guy for pushing so hard to go to Carolina in more than my mind.

The truth is that NJS isn’t keeping me here – I’m keeping myself here because I love my job, I love my friends, I love digging my hands into the city like a garden and finding ways to let the buds of innovation be free to grow (yeah, I said it.) Once the green space here is actually green, I’ll be much happier living here and will say as much often. I, however, have been one hell of a bad guy, by whining and wheedling at every turn when what we both need is positivity, and probably 14 billion hours of sleep.

I am truly penitent. I am sorry for the negativity I’m putting out into a world that clearly doesn’t need it. I’m sorry to Boston for only loving you when you’re nice to me and kicking you back when you’re mean. I’m most of all so sorry to NJS for being a point of stress and not a point of support. This year for Lent, I am giving up negativity. I am going to scale back the snark, because it doesn’t make me feel good to be That Girl Who Rants. I am going to focus my energy on finding the good, promoting the positive, and making the best of what’s already a pretty good life.


Entry filed under: Boston, NJS, stress. Tags: , , , .

Banana Fanna Fo-king Delicious Bread It’s All In The Ap-poach

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Melissa  |  March 9, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I really tried to say something inspirational here, but let’s face it: winter sucks. And this winter has just been a particularly nasty one. It’s good that you’re trying to dig up some positive energy, but I’d also say don’t beat yourself up for feeling something very natural after long months of cold, wind, snow and darkness:Get me outta here! Just hold on, things usually take a turn for the better in April.

  • 2. Ellen Rossano  |  March 9, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    I just sat down after a long week that involved two deaths very close to our family and found your post. Ash Wednesday is not the “new day” one might look to after a funeral, but I liked Scott’s view of Lent (he’s an Episcopal priest in RI.)
    One thing I like about the Episcopal Ash Wednesday tradition is that Lent is time of reflection, about making you’ve been struggling with better, and thinking about how we can become more like Christ (it’s what Christians are supposed to be doing all the time.)
    Giving up chocolate or booze or brussel sprouts for Lent might be something to complain about, but using these 40 days to think, reflect and ask for forgiveness is tricky.
    The best part of Lent this year is that when Easter comes at the end of April, the season will indeed have changed. The Christian Easter brings new life, hope and new light – just like the spring.
    Thanks for describing this winter so well – it has been memorable for all the wrong reasons. I look forward with you to the sun setting later, the leaves budding, and the warmer air. We’ll get through this, if nothing else, together. That you are my friend makes me very happy to celebrate the warmth that will be here any minute!

  • 3. Emily Dodd  |  March 9, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Coming from two girls who made it through our youth in the land of Catholic South Jersey with out ever encountering the smutty remnants of Ash Wednesday on a forehead you summarized it well. I have learned to think about the weeks prior to Easter as a time to remind myself of the sacrifice of enduring and of hopefulness and of a rebirth, a new chance and even a second chance, and of surrendering control.

    Each year as I spend time in my garden in the weeks and months prior to Easter, I piddle and fiddle. Working the ground, planting seeds, remembering what went well last year, dreaming of new things, planting seeds and hoping for warmer days, wishing each day to see something new that sprouted. It sounds a little corny but it has become my most spiritual time and time to reflect.

    Ellen described it so well. Spring is a time of rebirth of budding hope and is most definitely my favorite time of the year. I also think it is only fitting most of trips to see each other have usually been in spring. Can’t wait to work the garden with you, go for runs and spend time in the kitchen. A little Texas Spring time will do you good girl.

  • 4. Jennifer Spencer  |  March 11, 2011 at 8:27 am

    Thanks, ladies. I don’t know why this winter has been so tough, and I have a hard time talking about it because the truth is I don’t have any reason for it to be so. I also wonder that maybe these “winter blues” (that are so so much more) are getting worse and the implications of that are terrifying to me.

    Talking about a garden here is super appropriate, Em. It makes me think that the flowers that grow the best and brightest are the ones that take the winter to contemplate and rebuild. Easter of course is about a life more glorious because it was a rebirth from death. And the Ostara my Dad celebrates in Wicca honors fertility and new life and the planting of seeds while quietly reflecting. Taking this time to be contemplative and prepare for a better version of myself every year sounds like just the right thing to do.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 13 other followers

%d bloggers like this: