Sunday, March 22, 2009

Oasis in the Desert

Rejoice!
It's Laetare Sunday! "Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam"

"Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her."

This, "laetare," means, literally, "rejoice," taken from the words that open the Mass today, the entrance. It is a special day in this liturgical season, much akin to Gaudete Sunday in Advent.

It is an oasis in the walk through the desert of Lent. This is a day to encourage all of us in our Lenten efforts, a little breather to help us gather for the second half of a rigorous season and also remind us to look toward the joy of Easter itself. Hoorah, I'll take it and just in the nick o' time, if you ask me!
Indeed, "The strictness of the the Lenten Liturgy is interrupted on this Sunday with words that speak to us of joy. ... As Holy Week and Easter draw near, so do forgiveness, mercy, divine compassion, and a superabundance of grace." Francis Fernandez, "In Conversation with God; Lent and Eastertide."
{You might wonder why I post about these Catholic observances and the theology behind them....or you might not...but just in case you do: I post about them because I think about them and, almost always, find that they are mirroring, on a grand and awesome scale, what is churning about in my own tiny little life. }


We are given flowers on the altar, the vestments change from the penitential color of purple to a lighter shade, a rose. The music is less somber. We are reminded that we can have joy, even in suffering and trials...but it is a joy that is not of the world. It is a joy that is more real and truer, deeper and one of seeming contradiction. It the joy of being united to Christ, even in the cross. As Pope Paul VI points out "Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the occasions of pleasure, but finds great difficulty in giving birth to happiness." True happiness, joy, can be found in this contradiction of our modern world. Its not the surfeit of stuff that makes us happy, its the surrendering of our very selves, letting them go.

Laetare Sunday is also known as Mothering Sunday, from Gallations which points out our right to be called sons of God as the source of our joy. Which also of course, has, for me, a mom-adoptive connection (I know, a one-note kind of gal. Don't judge me, I can't help it. Because, yes, once again, it's all about me).

So, all the facets of this day kind of converge for me.
As usual, the liturgical rhythm is ever so germane to my own little mundane gerbil mill life......{And, why yes, I have been stewing about how all this jives up. You may look to my last post on roller coasters, just below, to see why}.

And so I think today is a little gift, I take it as one.
Because this was a tough week, and might be a few tough weeks ahead, as my overactive imagination can dream up all the ways this court date and visa issue can go wrong...as I fret and stew even as I determine not to.
This day, today, encourages me to carry this cross, such a meager one as it may be.
To keep stepping forward in faith, no matter what may come...to keep working on trusting instead of doubting and kvetching. Instead it encourages me.
There are too many connections for it not to deeply resonate for me.

So, in order that I will remember them in the coming weeks until Easter, and even more, until our court date (just over one week!), I am going to make a list.
A laetare list, if you will.

Bear with me...
Here goes:

Lent, a time of penance, sacrifice and mindfulness of being called to be more than we settle for, for remembering we are called to step out of our comfort zones in faith and hope.
The difficulty of actually following through on these efforts, or any effort really, to step out of our perfectly tufted comfort zones {ok, me}.
The great gift of a little oasis, a break, and encouragement for our body, mind, heart and spirit.
Today as Mothering Sunday...with all that implies, to me: caring feeding nurturing supporting directing healing holding tight.
This is what our faith does.
This is what the eucharist does.
This is what the Church does.
This is what a mom does.
This is what I am being called to do, today, and more, adding to it, hopefully soon.
Lent itself helps prepare us to do this, on all levels.

And more, on the tangible level:
Girls like pink.
Me too.
My new daughter seems to love pink.
She looks beautiful in pink.
I love food of all sorts.
I love to feed people.

I love flowers.
I love breaks, because I am a wuss.

So, we've got a liturgical oasis, flowers, pink, snacks, Mothering, rigor, breaks and joy.
What's not to like?

So, as I sit and wait in prayer and hope for our court date, I will also join this effort to simply wait more closely to Lent the season and this walk. This is perhaps one of my more "lived out" Lents. No wonder it hurts...... but, ah today, is Laetare Sunday. Not today.


Rejoice!

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