I have a dental checkup every six months. The hygienist cleans my teeth, the dentist examines my teeth and I get back on track with my home dental care. I know I should floss. Who doesn’t know they should floss? But I get forgetful and eventually realize I am about to see the dentist and furiously try to make up for lost time. Which, of course, is impossible. Fortunately, my dental team never shames me, just reminds me of good practice and says they will see me in six months.
Lent is like that for me. I know I should focus on God, pray, help the poor and focus less on me,me,me. I should quit seeing people with opposing political views and my President through hate-filled eyes. I should take time to be quiet and really appreciate my life. I should remember that that woman on the street could be me without the gift of medical care I have received. But I forget. I get preoccupied. I get angry and demonize the opposition.
Fortunately, once a year the Church has 40 days set aside to remember these things. God isn’t interested in shaming me any more than my dentist is. God just wants me to remember good practices. Lent is a yearly opportunity to do just that and I am grateful.