Running On Empty

Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent. Most years I try to “give something up” to honor the sacrifice that Christ made for all of us. This year I’m struggling more than ever. Somehow the usual desserts or alcohol or cussing that I try (and fail) to refrain from just seems like more than I can handle. Because of the pandemic I have given up too much this past year. I just don’t think I can afford to give up one more thing. I miss seeing my Dad at his assisted living facility. I miss sons who live out of state. I miss my daughter-in-law. I miss my granddaughters and most especially kissing their sweet faces. I miss hugging my friends – somehow the elbow taps or fist bumps or “air hugs” just don’t cut it.

So here it is, Lent. Time for my Lenten journey. Time to “take up my cross” and make my sacrifices. I just want to say no! No more. Nothing left to give. I’m completely empty. I’m out. Try me next year.

Maybe I really won’t give up anything. Because you know poor me, who has sacrificed so much, really deserves a year off.

And then I am met by angels. Friends who humble me by their prayer and devotion. Family members who inspire me by their spirituality and love of God and all creation. Grandchildren who love me unconditionally and who offer me glimpses of heaven. My wife who has the patience of a saint and should be canonized one day just for the miracle of putting up with me for decades.

What can a poor, sorry, selfish sinner do? Well, first I can leave the pity party. Then I can start praying. And then I can try that again because I feel like bitching and moaning during prayer doesn’t accomplish much. And then I can remember something a new friend shared with me this week. It’s okay to bring all the noise with you into your prayer. All the distractions. All the discomforts. All the sadness. All the pain. And just hand it over to God.

So that’s what I’ve decided to give up for Lent this year (and hopefully forever), trying to be holy and focused and perfect in my prayer. I’m giving it up because I give up. And maybe when I’m completely empty my soul can be filled with the love of God.

And a drink and a dessert and cussword or two this Lenten season will just be as it should be.



3 thoughts on “Running On Empty

  1. Wow Denis you truly have a beautiful gift of writing! You pretty much summed it up for all of us! This past year has been a struggle for everyone! I decided to read the Bible in a year with Fr Mike Schmitz and it has filled me up with a faith journey that’s exciting. We learned in grade school and high school about the Bible but reading it and reflecting on it as a grandmother has been a true inspiration of faith. His bless you and your beautiful family!🙏🏻

  2. Denis, thank you for sharing. Just being you is definitely alright! I learned a long time ago that giving up something sometimes just doesn’t work; maybe giving up meanness or gossip, something like that. What if we “gave something” for Lent? Something with Social Justice in mind; what about more quite time to hear what Our Lord is really saying to us! I know that is what I need; I need to listen more to that still, small voice. A Blessed Lent to you and your family.

  3. A friend reminded me that I am way past the age of the “no meat on Friday rule” – but out of habit, i continue. Perhaps a vegetarian pizza will be good for me. Take care, Denis!

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