Lent is such a hard time for me, always. I hear and see what others are doing and always feel as if I could be doing more, which then leads to the guilt associated with not doing or being enough. We’re not living our faith as well as so and so and whozit over there. I end up nearly giving up on what little I feel I am doing because it’s not enough, I’m not enough and there’s no use. I become upset at myself and then, in turn, upset at the family, for not living up to this image I have in my head of what we should be and do as a Catholic family during this amazing time. It’s such a horrid and evil trap to slip into and it seems as if you’re there before you realize where you are.
I’m learning something this year, slowly. It’s a difficult thing to learn, and a lesson I’ve had more than once over the years, but obviously needs repeating. I’m right. I’m not enough. I can’t be. I’m merely a sad and desperate sinner wanting only to be near Christ. But that’s the funny thing, I’m not enough, not me, by myself. Not without Christ. He takes my imperfect gift, my imperfect sacrifice, imperfect love and adoration and makes it new and beautiful. He fills in the gaps.
We once, years ago, went to a sheep farm in the NE of our state. It was spring time and the shepherdess did Bible tours of her working farm. The tour started as we emerged from our vehicles, beginning with an explanation of the shepherd’s crook and then weaving through the 23rd psalm and speaking on the duties of shepherds and what sacrifices they had to make to protect their precious lambs. Then she would stop, mid-step in the middle of the pasture and say “okay, now everyone just stop and breathe. Take a big deep beautiful breath, in through your nose, and smell that wonderful sweet smell”. She was speaking of the smell of the pasture, the manure and wet sheep and sweet, damp air. She asked us what we thought of that smell, horribly stinky, right? Only not to her, not to the shepherd. That smell was her way of knowing her sheep. She could tell everything she needed to know by that stench and it was a sweet and beautiful smell to her. The scent of her flock. Christ is like that, he is our shepherd, he, too, walks into the pasture, near the still water and breathes deeply of the stench that is us. He knows all about us, everything. We can hide nothing, and still our stench and our ugliness makes Him smile because we are His.
Without Christ, I am not enough.
But with Him, oh with Him, all my efforts and attempts are blessed and beautiful. I can be everything He has called me to be as long as I remember it is He who has done the calling, not I and not the so and so’s and whozit’s.
I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me