Why Lent makes sense to me (and why I need the other seasons too)

I grew up very Protestant. So Protestant that I remember asking my RE teacher when I was about 10, “What’s the difference between Catholics and Christians?” It was in a “Do you have any questions for your teacher?” section of the workbook, and my teacher diplomatically replied, “Ask your parents about this.” I can’t remember if I asked them or how they answered if I did. But I grew up with a clear sense that Catholics (and probably Anglicans) valued tradition more than relationship with God. As such, I saw all traditions – Lent with them – as meaningless distractions from God.

As a young adult, and a reluctant Anglican, I came to find that Lent was actually a season that fit me quite nicely. My struggles with mental illness had made me acutely aware of my own dust, and had also made me search to recover the much-needed and neglected tradition of Christian lament. Lent, it turned out, offered something I craved in my devotional life.

But the other seasons have been harder to walk through. I am less inclined to the Hallelujahs of Easter or the rejoicing of Christmas. The longing of Advent is easier but I’m still often too much of a Scrooge to mix my lament with hope.

This is why I need all the seasons: because if I had control, the whole year would be Autumn and nothing grows that way. I need the home-ground advantage of Lent but I need also to see budding flowers and be reminded to hope, and I need to sit in the sunshine and celebrate the joys and the victories already here.

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