Persons, places and things: Challenges and opportunities of Lent


By Barb Arland-Fye


Having never undergone surgery, I feared not waking up or losing my sight. But the anesthesiologist gently said, “Let go,” and I began to say the Hail Mary. Sudden­ly, it seemed, nurses were wheeling me from the recovery room to the surgical patients’ floor. The orthopedic surgeon had successfully mended my broken leg bones, installed plates and screws and told my husband he could take me home later that night or the next morning. Since the Olympics were underway, I told friends, family and colleagues that I’d gone home with metal, just not the Gold Medal! But the real victory comes from steadfast faith in Christ’s love for me, reinforced by the prayers of others.
Prior to the running accident Feb. 14 that led to surgery Feb. 19, I planned for this week’s column to focus on Lent and recommendations about what to read as part of enhancing the awareness of Lent. But during these past two weeks I’ve become more aware of the sufferings of others — from illness, disease, accidents or natural disasters (for example, winter weather that has caused some families’ water pipes to falter and others to endure flooded basements!). Lent calls us to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We are invited to join with each other, especially with our catechumens, in these practices, Bishop Martin Amos says in his Lenten letter. “Doing so, we profess our dependence on God and our love of neighbor.”
Discovering what other people go through enables me to better appreciate how blessed I am, and to acknowledge my limitations and accept my dependence. It is humbling to have my husband Steve lace up my shoe (on the good foot!) or help me wash my hair in the shower. But what a grace from God to have someone to depend on!
The kind thoughts, notes, cards, prayers and deeds I have been showered with touch me deeply. It reminds me of Jesus’ gift of himself to us; in receiving that gift, we are moved to be gift to others. I hope that’s a lesson I won’t soon forget when I hear of others in need of prayers and cheering up. A friend at work has been busy making arrangements for me to get rides to and from the office since I won’t be able to drive for six weeks. Why does she care so much? She’s a very giving person who has traveled the road of temporary incapacitation that I now travel.
Bishop Amos notes in his Lenten letter that we are not saved in isolation, but in community. Reading will continue to be a part of my alone time in Lent. I plan to read from the “The Little Black Book,” a six-minute daily mediation on Matthew’s Gospel, and to complete Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on Proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world, which is very readable, but challenging in the message the Holy Father shares about what it means to be a Catholic Christian. But in community, I will participate in Liturgy of the Hours at my parish on late Sunday afternoons, attend Stations of the Cross and soup suppers and reach out to others, especially those most in need of my prayers, a card, or a shoulder to lean on.

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