Every year around this time, two things happen to me: I start thinking about pancakes. And I really want to watch “The Quiet Man.”
Why pancakes? For years, we belonged to a church in Maryland that had a pancake supper for Shrove Tuesday; it was great, and we always loaded up on pancakes, link sausage, and maybe some token fruit, with plenty of maple syrup. It turns out that Shrove Tuesday – Fat Tuesday, the traditional feast day before Lent – is, actually, worldwide Pancake Day. And as for “The Quiet Man,” we always watch this classic movie in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which falls fairly close to the start of Lent. We’re not big on green beer, but we do like our Crock Pot corned beef and cabbage, potatoes and carrots. Clearly, my stomach knows what season it is!
This is a good day to be thinking about Lent. Yesterday was sunny and mild, but today, we woke up to six inches of snow and a two-hour school delay. It’s snowing outside now, the sky is gray, and all is quiet; the blanket of snow is a giant muffler.
I love snow days. I didn’t have much experience with snow as a kid in Texas or Mississippi, but when we moved to Kentucky, we hit the mother lode: The winter of ’78. I was in middle school, and we had 30 snow days! One blizzard right after another. We paid for it months later, with extended school days and a shorter summer break, but during that winter, it was glorious! How delightful to wake up to daylight, instead of the usual early-morning winter darkness, and to know that once again, my mother hadn’t woken me up because school had been cancelled!
On one of those days, my brother and I set out in the bitter cold and walked a couple miles through the snow to the movie theater to see “The Black Hole,” a highly unscientific Disney space adventure. By the time we got there, the movie had just started and we were snow blind: we couldn’t see anything! But we wanted to get our seats quickly, so we picked a row and made our way to the middle, saying “excuse me, excuse me,” as we went. When the movie was over, we realized that we were the only ones in the theater! We had excused ourselves to empty chairs! We about died laughing. What an adventure!
The best thing about a snow day is the gift of time. I think that’s what Lent is supposed to be. I think that’s what our Sabbath should be, frankly, and for most of us, it isn’t. Lent is time for us to center ourselves on Jesus, to pray and think about Him, and about what He wants us to do and be. I’m pretty sure nobody ever looks back on life and says, “I wish I’d been busier,” or “I wish I’d worked more,” or “I wish I’d taken less time to thank God for all my blessings,” or “I wish I’d prayed less.” My prayer for all of us this Lenten season is that we use this time to draw closer to God.
This is a Lenten devotional I wrote for a booklet for Prescott United Methodist Church; the people of the church also write Advent devotionals like this one I did a while back.
©Janet Farrar Worthington