With Lent almost officially over and Easter quickly approaching, I have been giving a lot of thought to changes. As a Catholic, Lent is an important season of reflection. Of looking within ourselves, finding things within our lives and selves that we should journey towards remedying.
While traditionally Catholics give up something during Lent as a sign of self sacrifice, I decided this year that I was going to attempt to rediscover my purpose under heaven. Quite a lofty goal, but one that can be terrifying, especially to someone who has always played by the "rules."
As a child, I did what I was told, never really questioning, just accepting. As an adolescent, I did not rebel. There was no dark Goth phase. I was a "good" girl. I earned good grades, did the right things, was responsible, made safe choices. I was a coward.
I have been the image that was reflected of me; living in the shadow of someone else's preconception of who I should be, at any given moment of my life, until I got married. Because when I took that step into adulthood, I felt the courage and support to really begin my own journey with a loving spouse.
I began to take risks, safe ones, but risks nonetheless. I learned to listen to my inner voice, the one that belonged to me. And blessedly, my husband was supportive. If I wanted to continue to teach at the poor, immigrant school, then that's what I should do. You want to go to Graduate School, go.
But I did not really find my voice until I became a mother. The lioness was unleashed.
It is funny, how when we are children, we want to be older. We want to be able to do what we want, when we want, and how we want. As adults, we often think back to "better" days, when we were younger, had less responsibility.
And if we find ourselves in this holding pattern; yearning for tomorrow and holding on to yesterday, we rarely live in the present.
John Lennon sang of "life is what happens when you are busy making other plans." For a lot of people, this is true. We find ourselves in a monotony of daily life, trying to escape it for a few days or a week break, only to go back to it and make more plans for the next "break."
For me, I don't think back and yearn. I think about my journey. What my season is...what my purpose is. And I think that I could not be the person I am today without all the experiences that have brought me to this moment.
The season of Spring brings life back into the Earth. It is no small coincidence that Christians celebrate Easter at such a powerful time of year. The Earth is coming back from the death of winter. We shed our coats, our extra layers, the ones that confine us. Jews celebrate Passover, symbolizing their Exodus out of Egypt, freeing them from slavery.
And right now, my purpose is to free myself of those things that keep me from being the person I was meant to be. The anxiety, the self doubt, the questions, the history that keeps me enslaved, preventing me from living in the present, in this season. Just as the Earth comes back to life, I am beginning to come out of my cocoon, morphing into the person that was always there, waiting.
So, yes, I still make plans. I remember our family's history and wonderful memories so far, but I don't not hide in their shadow anymore.
I do not let other's perceptions of me shape me into someone I cannot and do not desire to be. I am who I am, take it or leave it.
Because who I am isn't too bad. In fact, I am a work in progress, as is everyone else.
In this season, forgiveness gives us freedom. We forgive others; sometimes all too quickly, sometimes for all the wrong reasons. But do we ever forgive ourselves for the wrongs we do to ourselves? For the unintentional wrongs to the ones we love? Do we free ourselves to live as we should; free of the things that imprison us within our own souls?
Because sometimes, absolution does not necessarily come inside a confessional. It comes from within ourselves. It is a gift that we give to ourselves.
As Lent comes to it's symbolic end this weekend, I think back to my Lenten offering this year. I wonder if I have made any progress. In some ways I have. I let go of the things I cannot change. I don't beat myself up for making mistakes, I find it counterproductive.
Instead, I am trying to enjoy the life I am living between the "big" plans. Definitely a time to embrace. Turn, turn, turn.