By Adam Harper, Senior at Ascension Cartersville
Following Shrove Tuesday, I sat down and wrote a short blog post on my experiences and preparations for the forty days of Lent. Now, as we enter the blurred time between Lent and Holy Week, I am again reflective on the forty days of Lent.
This year, as I came to find out, Bp. Wright attempted to revolutionize the way that we think about Lent. It’s less about “giving up” and more about growing spiritually in your relationship with God. Lent is a time to challenge your faith and grow with it. It’s a time to reexamine your life and face your trials and tribulations head on, so that again you might become a better person.
What a Lent it has been. How true is it that I have been forced to face the challenges of this world head on (we all have), and choose whether or not to grow because of these challenges or fall in the face of them. In the past forty days, I have witnessed three of my close friends either fall victim to the terror of suicide or witness his/her friend/family member fall victim. Furthermore, the mother of my close friend from school had a terrible stroke, and though she is rehabilitating, he’ll be living with me for the rest of the year. It’s truly been a time of challenge, change, and heartbreak. On the other hand, liturgically, it’s been a 40 days of reflection and growth, of Litanies and of solemnity. As I set in the pews today — on the Sunday of the Passion — I reflected on how I can synthesize both the message I’ve received from Lent with the message I’ve received from Life.
It’s simple: as Lent teaches us that you are to *grow* with God on your Journey to the cross, I’ve experienced first hand that the best way to do that is by leaning on him through the struggles of your daily life. There is a meaning to everything that happens — good and bad — and it’s important to recognize that there is something always learn from whatever you are going through. I learned these forty days that you must hold on tight to your community and face your problems head on. Though some may choose to ignore their problems — turning to alcohol or drugs, or simply choosing not to recognize their existence — if you can deal with them in the moment and grow because of them, you can learn to deal with whatever life may throw at you.
At the beginning of these forty days, when Lauren Ford lost her battle with depression and took her own life, we bound together as a community in Christ to help ourselves understand the incomprehensible questions of suicide. It was hard, but together we made it. This past week, the Cathedral of St. Philips did the same as they tried to understand why a beloved friend would fall victim to the same illness. Suicide is never easy, but because, with Lauren, we were able to face it together — to grow together — we became stronger. It allowed some of those affected, I believe, to get through the same issue, just weeks later.
So, effectively, we (and I especially) have grown for Lent. When the stone turns and Jesus emerges from the tomb next Sunday, we will again be reminded of the light that Christ brings to this world. However, even after this glorious Sunday, we will not see the problems of Today cease. Friends will still fall victim to suicide and life will still put us through the worst expected.
These forty days have Lent have taught me, and hopefully you, that we can face these challenges together and grow with them. We can grow with them in our faith and in our relationship with each other (the same thing?). At the end of the day, we’ll all rise in glory with God, but until then, we still have tough times to get through. Lent is a time of reflection and growth toward a better us. It’s a time for us to step back and intentionally examine the events of our lives and see how we can be better because of it. A lot happened, but luckily, we aren’t alone. We have both God and each other to rely on, to grow with. It’s about time we realize it.