Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Middle of Lent

The middle of Lent always stinks.

In the language of the Church, Lent is a time in the desert, modeling the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness before He began His earthly ministry. Catholics "go into the desert" in Lent to prepare and be purified, as He did. We simplify, fast, give up and take on things all in an effort to become better Christians and to be ready for the great mysteries of Easter.

The beginning of the journey is always rather exciting. Having considered what needs to change in my life, I embrace the notion of a 40 day retreat. I'm ready, enthusiastic. And the beginning is like any journey, anticipating what's to come with eagerness. The edge of the desert has a wild beauty and besides, I can still see "home" back over my shoulder.

But after a few weeks the desert isn't such a perky place. The vista is nothing but barren sand, the occasional rock and maybe, with luck, a scrub brush. But there is no beauty, no oasis, no cleft of rock in which to hide from the heat. It sucks. Whatever load I'm carrying suddenly seems heavier; sometimes I lose my bearings and mostly am asking, "Why am I doing this again?"

But once in the middle of the desert there is no option but to keep moving until the 40 days wind down. There begins to be vegetation. The sandstorms aren't so frequent. And there, in the distance, a glimpse of the other end of the desert. There is a cool, green place waiting. The journey is over and I'm able to celebrate the 50 days of Easter with a new kind of joy and a fair amount of relief.

At least, that is how it plays out for me.

Another thing about Lent. I always start out with my own intentions, which come out of thoughtful reflection and prayer. But just about every year there's a point where God says, "Sure, that's a pretty good idea but here's where I'm really taking you".

This year's Lent is, without question, about waiting and about how impatient I am for the "big things". When it comes to little stuff, I have no problem with waiting. Standing on line for the grocery check-out, waiting to be seated in a restaurant, even traffic tie-ups...I'm the queen of Little Waiting. I don't fight it, don't complain. I'll take out a book or my day planner, ring up someone on my cell, chat with someone or just take the time to breathe and be. I am a model of charm and poise with the little waitings of life. Big stuff, not so much.

I want it now! I want the deal to close, the test results back, the decisions made sooner rather than later. Forget this waiting for a contractor to show up to finish the kitchen. Forget about backed up labs and department directors who have the nerve to go on vacation when I'm looking for a job. Escrow? Who needs it? These are the sorts of things that it seems I've had to deal with every Lent of my Catholic life. There is always something big going on, something that won't be accomplished quickly, something that is moving forward but so incrementally as to be imperceptible. And. I. Hate. It.

This morning I had a little breakthrough. Here's a bold statement: I'll bet you I do get The Job. We all know I'm perfect for it. They'll know it soon enough. But you know what else I bet? I'll bet if I get it the offer won't come until Eastertide. Just bet you.

And then I thought of something else. All this stuff with The Cat? It's consuming a lot of time and emotional energy. How much would it stink to be dealing with this AND working at the same time? (Granted, once I am working I'll have to deal with all sorts of things while holding down a job. But there is a mercy in the fact that right now there is time to attend to this).

This isn't a major breakthrough on the subject of Big Waiting, but I may have stumbled on a piece of it: I need to develop a similar attitude and discipline toward the Big stuff as I have with the Little. Breathing into it, letting it be and not wasting all my time in the meantime with fretting. Yes, the scenery right now is a little austere but there's beauty to be found even in the barreness, if I'm willing to stop complaining long enough to look around.

Cat Update for Those Who Are Interested

Got the blood work back yesterday, with elevated levels that confirm funkiness in her kidney. Doc wants her on a special low-protein diet, wants us to push fluids no matter how much she's drinking and he wants to see her again on Friday. The second he said he wanted us to start the IV, I freaked. The tech showed me how to do it but eewww... I spent the day visualizing how to administer a subcutaneous IV and getting skeeved out. I told The Neighbor that at least it would give me one more important skill for The Tribe after the apocolypse. ("Why, you'll be a medical technician! she said).

But then I remembered that our friend Jennifer is studying to be a physical therapist and maybe, just maybe she'd know how to do it. "Sub cute?" she said, "That is soooo easy". Hi. I have a new personal hero. She came up last night to give Phoebs her fluids and is going to come tonight and tomorrow as well.

May she and all her descendents be blessed for ever more. Selah.

If the problem is a kidney infection, then the antibiotics and fluids will help immensely and the vet should see an appreciable difference by Friday.

Also, her thyroid is normal. And that's the bad news. She's underweight but eats all the time. It could be that she's not getting enough nutrients because her kidney is otherwise occupied. It could be. It could also be cancer. There. I said it. So basically, if her kidney doesn't respond to the diet, pills and fluids, that's pretty much the diagnosis.

I told The Child yesterday and immediately began crying. She, on the other hand, remained stalwart. "The thing is," I told her, "we need to start preparing ourselves for the worst. If it really is just an infection and she's going to be fine we can be really happy. But if we tell ourselves that's all it is and it's worse we are going to be even sadder than we are now".

So there you go. And in the meantime, we're just loving her up as much as we can.

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Blogger Nicole opined...

Kisses to Phoebe for me. And hugs of loving support for the rest of the family too.

March 14, 2007 9:24 AM  
Blogger Citymouse opined...

Such a tough thing with a pet. Is this the Child's first time with death? just wondering out loud. Yep... God just takes you where he wants you to go. It sure sucks, but it could be could be Easter or Mary or somebody like that... but wait... you kind of are that to some of us :)

March 14, 2007 9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

That Lenten piece was entirely publishable. Granted, it would have to be published in something that I'm generally not likely to read, but you get my point.

So will you know on Friday whether or not she's responding to the fluids? I'd hate for it to get too drawn out, because the cat is not the only one suffering.

March 14, 2007 10:11 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Thanks, Nicole. Know you understand.

Not really, CM. She lost a frog...that was pretty traumatic. But this for sure will be a big deal. And your Mary comment (pft, btw) reminded me of something I said to Dame Judi the other night. I was complaining about the suckiness of the middle of Lent and said that Jesus only had to go to the desert once but we do this to ourselves every year. "Yeah, but you don't have to climb up on a cross and die for everyone's sins at the end of it, either" she said. Moms.

Thanks, Poodle. "God Weekly" just called. And yes, we should know on Friday if she's truly improving. And I'm going to make arrangements ahead of time for The Last Shot, just in case. That makes me feel like crap but it would gives us the weekend to start dealing with it.

March 14, 2007 10:20 AM  
Anonymous the neighbor opined...

Hi Nayb,

Wonder where you got the mulling about the kitchen being finished...

Anywhoo, the thought occurred to me, after reading your wonderfully written Lenten reflection, that Big Waiting happens all year 'round in one form or another, but we're just more aware of it during Lent. Lent - when we're supposed to take the time to be more aware of stuff, to listen more and be more thoughtful about our lives and our journeys. Our most important Big Waiting is for the joy of Easter. Right now our job is to "wait for the Lord, who is our light in darkness" - the cool thing is, we know how that one's going to turn out.

March 14, 2007 10:24 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Amen, Sister Friend. And yeah, I was thinking about my kitchen mess a few years ago but also about yours. And good news...the tiling guys showed up. (Aren't you glad I'm here to spy for you?)

March 14, 2007 10:32 AM  
Blogger Eric opined...

I agree with JP. that post is one of your better written.
So much so that I forwarded the Link to K at St James to forward to Fr R. and anyone else who would like to read it

March 14, 2007 10:53 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Remind me to hire you as my manager when the writing contracts come pouring in. You knucklehead.

March 14, 2007 11:02 AM  
Blogger Dariush Alavi opined...

All this reminds me of the way my Mum dealth with the death of our dog... not an inspirational story! I'm sure your daughter is grateful for your support and 'realistic love', even though she may not quite realise it herself.

March 14, 2007 12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

I love it when you say "Amen, Sister Friend."

March 14, 2007 2:16 PM  
Blogger Edy opined...

uh, need to reprint your copyright disclaimer under the Lent piece. I am forwarding it to a friend who really needs to read that right now. The Lent piece, not your copyright.

March 14, 2007 6:43 PM  
Blogger Edy opined...

uh, need to reprint your copyright disclaimer under the Lent piece. I am forwarding it to a friend who really needs to read that right now. The Lent piece, not your copyright.

March 14, 2007 6:43 PM  
Blogger greeny opined...

Even though I am a heathen, I appreciated your Lent writings very much. Very thoughtful. I wonder if all people, religious or not could actually give their lives the thought you did, would this be a better world?

And the cat situation...I feel for you. Hope things turn out good. I have a cat situation today as well and he probably won't be coming home from the vet. He is far less the pet then Phoebe is and I am still sad.

March 15, 2007 6:48 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

You a heathen, Greeny? Pft. You are entirely too thoughtful and kind a person yourself. I don't hold much with the idea that only those who go to church are "the good ones". In fact, it is so often exactly the opposite.

My condolences on your cat. That stinks.

March 15, 2007 6:53 AM  
Blogger gina opined...

Really excellent post on Lent. But then, you know that. We Protestants - especially we non-denominational Protestants - don't take the time to properly acknowledge the Lenten season. We don't pay much attention until Good Friday rolls around, and then it's celebration time come Easter Sunday. I think we miss out on a lot by not taking that annual journey into the desert. Henceforth (doesn't that sound just so lawyerly and official?), I vow to observe the Lenten season, and to let God take me where He wants to take me. Thanks for the post. Really.

March 16, 2007 1:22 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Thanks, Gina. You know, I actually started practising Lent before I became a Catholic. I didn't necessarily know exactly what I was doing but found it to be a very interesting practise. Still do. Good luck with the desert.

March 16, 2007 3:41 PM  

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