By Lori Ubowski
Four years ago, I could never have imagined I would be re-living a tale told in one of my most personally memorable blog posts. I was reflecting into the final hours before Lent began, trying to stay awake long enough for the clothes in the dryer to finish. And like so many Catholics, I had spent the last few days anxiously trying to figure out what I was going to sacrifice or do for the season of Lent as the Ash Wednesday “deadline” quickly approached.
As the laundry finished its cycle in the dryer, and I started to turn in for the night, I still felt like I hadn’t quite found the perfect sacrifice for Lent. However, I had some appreciation for managing to accomplish one thing that day in preparation for the next forty days. I had been feeling this urgent desire to create a peaceful space for my family to use for prayer and reflection as we journeyed together through Lent. I somehow mustered the energy to spend about half an hour, pulling together this corner (pictured right) in our office.
What is not visible in the picture of this space (complete with a crucifix, bible, rosary, reflection books, and even a cozy blanket) is that it was the only peaceful square footage in the entire room.
This is what the rest of the room looked like (brace yourself).
Haha! All I could do was look at the stark contrast of these pictures and laugh, because, as much as I wanted that whole room to be peaceful, I just couldn’t make it happen in time for Lent. My type-A, perfectionist tendencies had to surrender to the reality that we were still getting settled from a move, and life had been crazy! And here I am four years later on the cusp of Lent once again, in the midst of the craziness, trying to settle and move back into this same house that was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Michael over a year ago. And guess what…80% of my house right now looks like the second picture, not the first picture. Again, I find myself desperately feeling that urgency and need for peaceful space in not only my home environment but also in my daily routine and my heart.
This year as I reflect upon the coming days of Lent and lament the steps backward, my life seems to have taken, I still muster a chuckle as I remembered of those pre-Lenten moments four years ago. Reminders that instead of looking around dazed and overwhelmed, not knowing where to begin, I decided to press ahead and create a peaceful space in the midst of the uncontrollable mess.
I truly believe the Holy Spirit inspired me then and is reminding me now to continually recognize that Jesus doesn’t want us to wait until things are “perfect” for us to spend time with Him. As you prepare for Lent, I pray that my “mess” encourages anyone struggling with the pressures of “the perfect Lenten sacrifice.” Instead of being discouraged, let us pray for the strength to emerge from the chaos and find those small, simple moments to spend time with Jesus, to draw closer to Him each day of this upcoming season of Lent.
About the author:
Lori Ubowski is a Catholic musician, speaker, and author. She is part of the duo, Out of Darkness, leading worship with her husband, Adam. She recently co-authored Side By Side: A Catholic Mother-Daughter Journal (Ave Maria Press) with her daughter, Ava, and is a contributing writer in Our Friend Faustina (Marian Press).