I am one of those who look forward to Lent as a season for quiet reflection and a slower pace of life. It always comes as a surprise how quickly it passes, how soon it’s over, how little time I devoted to quiet reflection, and how unchanged my pace of life remained during those few brief weeks.
Maybe that’s why I treasure Holy Week and the Great Vigil of Easter so much. It captures the essence of Lent in seven short days. It is not simply a matter of attending a quiet Eucharist each day, or the very intentional remembrance of the gift of holy food and drink on Thursday, or the vigil at the cross on Friday. I also do my best to drop out of normal obligations and civic duties during Holy Week. The United Way, Housing Authority and Diocese all get along without me. On Saturday evening, at the Great Vigil, the darkened church offers few distractions. The long series of lessons are given opportunity for reflection by the offering of canticles and hymns between them. Almost too soon comes the announcement that He is Risen and Easter has arrived.
I rejoice at the return of Alleluias, which, rather stubbornly, I will not give up after Pentecost as is the practice of some. I rejoice at the renewal of life and hope that never died and never will. I rejoice at the good news we are called to share. But a part of me misses the Lent in which I did not fully participate. And I give grateful thanks for the Holy Week that prepared me for Easter’s joy.