Since I started observing Lent in college, it's followed a typical trajectory:
Ash Wednesday: the most awesomely reverent and beautiful but simple service evah that makes me feel both penitential and loved and in touch with God all at once. Individual churches can mess up other services - I've seen it done - but no matter where you go, at least in the Episcopal church, Ash Wednesday is done right. (Maybe because the very nature of it discourages liturgical "experimentation"?)
The first week or so: is also awesome, in so far as Lent can be awesome. The penance is fresh and novel and doesn't feel too terrible yet. Except that one year I did a caffeine fast while in college; not one of my more prudent decisions.
As my Catholic readers know, about half way through Lent becomes a drag. Forty days seems a lot longer than it did on Ash Wednesday.
And then comes Holy Week, which in my experience is jam-packed with services and enough kneeling and calisthenics to prepare you for a burpees contest.
This Lent has not followed that trajectory.
It's not because God is melting my heart with humility - although the humiliation part of humility has been pretty non-stop. It's because I can't get my shit together.
And by that I don't mean that I can't do the fasts - although that is true! I haven't kept a single ONE of the promises I made in my previous post, not consistently. I'm doing much better about the shower thing, but the "I'm sorry" thing went out the window in 10 minutes flat after hitting publish.
Nope, it's that a car won't run without fuel. And I haven't been to a Eucharist service since the Christmas Midnight Mass. Moreover, I haven't taken communion since... I'm honestly not sure. Because somewhere in the fall I knew I needed confession, knew I couldn't take communion while harboring bitterness towards people in my own denomination and my own town, but couldn't get serious enough to go. While my beliefs about confession and Eucharist are not exactly Roman Catholic, I do take Jesus seriously when He says to leave your gift at the altar and reconcile with your brother. And while I've gotten much better about forgiving people in the distant past, there are people in my life right now who have made our (mine and my husband's) lives much more difficult in the past year, financially and otherwise. And when you're still living with the consequences of someone else's actions, forgiveness is hard. And how can I honestly say that I firmly intend to stop harboring bitterness when I can't seem to let go?
I do know that I could go to church without partaking. I've done it before plenty of times. The reason I haven't has mostly to do with the sin of sloth. For various reasons I've been mostly without a car the past few months, and my husband leaves for his church's first service (and stays until the second one's over) at about 7:30 a.m. There is no bus that comes by our apartment on Sundays, and no churches within walking distance, Episcopal or otherwise. But of course these are excuses, and I know perfectly well that if I cared enough I would have found a way.
The good news is that now I DO have my car back. No more excuses. I've called the priest for a confession appointment, he called me back, and I need to call again. And I need to go to church on Sunday. Without the sacraments I have no fuel, and I have never known that more than now.
Please pray for me.