Soon and very soon, Lent is coming to an end. I’m sort of in denial about it because, quite frankly, it hasn’t felt very Lent-ish this season to me.
Let me digress for a moment: Sometimes we need to keep reminding ourselves that it’s okay to feel this way and that it’s good to be honest about it, instead of trying to pretend we’re cultivating something we’re not. As I emphasized to the class I taught on the liturgical year at church over the last month, one of the beautiful things about living seasonally, about living the church year, is that it helps us to remember that the story will get told again next year. Sometimes we need to tell The Story to each other, and tell it to each other, and tell it to each other, over and over again. That’s what community does. We remind one another of the story we claim to live. But sometimes people die on Christmas day, and there is little feeling of joy during the season of Christmas. Sometimes babies are born during Lent, and there is little feeling of penitance. We keep on keeping on anyway, and we look forward to the next season.
I haven’t felt very Lent-ish for a variety of reasons, only one of which is the big zinger of being 8 months’ pregnant.
The beauty of pregnancy makes it difficult to focus on ashes and sackloth and fasting. And the not-so-beautiful aspects of pregnancy? Well, I’m achy and grumpy and hungry and tired… all the time. I read and pray the Breviary, but I’m still grumpy and tired. I’ve tried to be disciplined about writing a poem a day, but I’m grumpy about it. Even when I think about sitting down to write posts here at Texas Schmexas, I’m a grumpy pants.
Additionally, we’ve been pretty busy with out of town company in and out of the house to help with construction projects, getting a garden going, having a baby shower, attending a weekend women’s retreat (me) and a philosophy conference (J), teaching the class at church, trying to keep up with writing projects… phew. Tires me out just thinking back over the last few weeks. And here we are at Maundy Thursday already. For real?
But for some CRAZY reason, we decided to host weekly potlucks throughout Lent. Yes, weekly. It seemed fitting to celebrate the mini-Easters in such a gray season with friends. At the time it seemed fitting anyway, says Ms. Ima Grump.
And this is where
yesterday’s Monday’s introduction about being a hypocrite comes into play.
On the way home from the women’s retreat, I was stressing a little about arriving home a mere thirty minutes before the potluck. We’d had company that weekend, and I was worried about how the house looked. But I tried to keep quiet about it, mainly because one of the women in the car was planning to come. She mentioned something about not believing we didn’t cancel the potluck this week, considering the guests who’d been there since Wednesday and my being away for the last two days.
What I felt like saying: “You’re telling me! Please don’t come over! Why the heck do we do this anyway?”
Instead, I said: “It’s not always convenient, but I don’t think hospitality typically is. If we wait for it to be convenient, we probably wouldn’t be very hospitable. At least I wouldn’t be!”
The following week, with J out of town all weekend, arriving home super late Saturday night, one of our potluck friends mentioned that she really couldn’t believe we were still having a potluck. (Her husband had been with J at the conference, and so she knew how late they’d gotten home.)
I said, “Oh, no big deal.”
She said, “Oh, yes it is!”
And I thought, “”Yep. You’re right. Why are we doing this again?”
Because, people, hospitality is hard. It’s even a discipline. In Lent, we fast because we need to make room. We take something out of our lives so we can put something else in. Maybe that something else is people.
Which is why, if you’re like me, we shouldn’t be surprised when it isn’t something we want to do.
Making room in our busy lives to welcome others in is hard work.
Inviting them in is hard work.
Doing it when we don’t want to? Hard work.
Community is hard work.