The Lesson I Learned

The Lesson I Learned

Writers don’t care how they look.  What is important to them is what they write about.  You can look like a wreck and write the most beautiful prose.  You can have wart on your nose and write a lovely poem.  Writers have no wish to attain the heights of beauty.  Not in the physical sense.  Their world is in words, in worlds, in heaven or in some part of hell where a little bit of life still thrives.

I went to a writer’s conference last year.  The keynote speaker was a woman who was a writer -in-residence at a university. She looked like someone’s old maiden aunt.  She wore no makeup, her hair was disheveled from the wind, her clothes weren’t designer clothes.  They were the clothes of a journeywoman.  Someone who just came out of a long trip on the road.

Yet when she read her work I began to hear and see her world, her humor and her wit.  Yes, she was a writer.  Not a thing about her physically that would cause a lot of heads to turn. But turn they did when they heard her speak.

So I learned a lesson that day.  I felt like I could be comfortable as a writer.  I didn’t need makeup.  I didn’t need a lot of hair product nor did I need to wear the latest fashions to be with other writers.  Or, to write on my laptop.  In class, my classmates and I get along well discussing what I loved doing:  Writing. What we did was enough.  And that was to write, and write well.

And part of the lesson for me was to look at others without judging them based on their appearance.  It is not how God wants us to treat people.  We need to look into their eyes, their smiles, the creases on their brows, the rough edges of their lives and come to understand how God made them the way they are and see how they work, what they do. How their lives glorify God.  How their lives fit in with the Plan of God.

Each of us has a purpose in life.  Don’t let the way we look to each other get in the way.


Because it’s Lent


The other day, I saw a coworker and friend who had foot surgery over a month ago.  He had a swollen foot now for days maybe weeks, and the swelling wouldn’t go away.  And I was recounting to him what I was thinking of that morning in prayer.  I realized why his foot was taking longer to heal: because it was Lent.

My friend looked at me and repeated: “Because it’s Lent?  That my foot is still swollen?”
I said yes.  I said to him that Lent is like that.

It may not be for all, but for me, Lent is such a hard slog to go through.  It seems to drag on for weeks.  And it does.  I have a consciousness of a dark kind of depression, even, that descends over me.

Lent is where I find that “Dark night of the soul” that St John of God wrote about.  In Lent, I find that I share in the sufferings of Jesus as He makes His way to Calvary.  It seems that Jesus is asking me to share His Passion.  By any means necessary.  One Lent, I spent my weeks sharing my Mom’s hospital room as she was going into a deep decline and final meeting with Sister Death.

I find that other friends find Lent a terrible time as well.  While I was on the phone with a good friend, she exclaimed piteously how Lent made her so sad, so depressed

Other times when the subject of Lent comes up, I hear people murmur “Oh yeah. Lent.”  And they have a sad look.

Sometimes Lent is like that.  It is for me.  A religious sister spoke of Lent to us in a group.  She said Lent is Spring.  It’s the time to look at the renewal of nature.  To look at renewing our own selves.  Our souls.

For my friend, who has a swollen foot, it is an optimistic thought.  Like the Resurrection.  The suffering of Christ finally ends in His rising from the dead.

For me, for us, Lent is a given.  We, as Christians, have to go through our version of Lent.  For the younger ones, they give up something for Lent.  For the older ones, we go through a deep dive into the Cross.  We all, each of us, has a Cross to bear. Sometimes, more than one!  It could be that surly boss, or, the copier that malfunctions, or a child who is sick, or our own infirmities.

Lent is a magnifier of our cross.  But that is ok.  We all need a retreat, a retreat into what God is asking us to think of, to suffer and to finally see that it’s all going to be ok.

When Easter comes, we will look at each other and say, “We survived another Lent.”  Kind of when winter is over, and spring buds are out.  We survived another winter.

I guess I just had to write about Lent.  It’s almost over.  We will survive.  My Mom passed a few weeks before Easter.  But she spent her Easter in Heaven.  So we all have that one, that First Easter in Heaven to look forward to.  And while we spend the remaining years of our lives counting each passing Lent, let these earthly Lenten Seasons season us and make us worthy of that First Easter.