“Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do, before your eyes.”
1 Samuel 12:16
I keep hearing people say that this Lent is very Lenty. That it will go down as the Lentiest Lent that ever Lented. That is probably true — but I would venture to guess that for my family and me, it will go down as one of the best!
But how can that be?
We are a family that seems to be on the go constantly. With work, school, sports, scouts, ministries and other volunteer opportunities regularly presenting themselves, our calendar is full. Always! People comment about how busy we are, and I quickly reply, “We are busy, but it is a good kind of busy” and I sincerely mean that because nearly all these activities involve spending time and working together as a family.
Our twins are turning 13 years old and our youngest will be 7 years old very soon and for the past few months I have been reflecting upon our life together. In fact, before the coronavirus was considered a pandemic and we could all roam about the world freely, I was looking at photos of when the twins were very young. Even though I love the ages they are at now, and I enjoy our active lifestyle, I found myself longing for those sweet simple days.
A decade ago, our days were spent at home reading books together, playing in the backyard, dancing in our living room, finger painting, and eating every dinner together at the kitchen table. We didn’t have any place to rush off too. Sometimes the boys would be in their PJs or superhero costumes all day.
Financially, those times were tough, and there were toddler meltdowns, and there was anxiety and uncertainty – but the good far outweighed the rough and we were able to spend a lot of time at home together creating precious early memories.
Since those early days we have learned a lot and grown as a family – and as much as I would love to pop back into one of those days, just for a moment, that is clearly impossible. Those days are behind us and we must move forward.
BUT…here we are amid a pandemic with orders to shelter in place. Our family calendar is suddenly clear for the foreseeable future (other than working from home and distance learning).
“Just when the night engulfs us, we must think about the dawn coming, we must believe that every morning the Church is revived through her saints. Not because they have conquered the world, but because they allowed Christ to conquer them.”
– St. John Paul the Great
So, now what? What does the Lord want my family and I to do with this time together – especially during Lent and with Holy Week approaching? How should we spend our days, so we don’t waste these moments? How do we continue to build up the kingdom of God while tucked safely in our home?
I believe that God is calling us to be still in this moment, to slow down, and to listen to His still small voice. That doesn’t mean that we sit around all day staring at each other in silence. It means we make the most of this time by communicating more, playing games, cooking together, studying the Bible, and participating in Mass the only way we can right now. This is our time to build up our Domestic Church, to grow closer to Christ and to each other.
We are also preparing ourselves for the new normal; the life we will experience after all of this is over. My hope is that this will be an awakening and that we will realize that our time is short and precious and things that don’t hold eternal value are just things that distract us from what is life-giving and meant to sanctify us.
My family and I, are spending more time in prayer and offer our loss of freedom as a sacrifice for the sick, the lonely, the dying, the homeless, the abused, and those who feel forsaken and for the heroes sacrificing time with their families and risking their own health to heal the sick.
We are trying not to focus too much on all the things we are disappointed about losing, or our anxiety about what is to come, and instead spend that time refocusing our family by realizing that this is perhaps one of the greatest spiritual opportunities we have ever had. And that is why is just may be the best Lent ever!