My fractured Lent began nine years ago when I gave up wine for Lent, almost seven weeks after my mother died. At the time, I knew I was drinking too much. I knew ending each day in a haze of wine was not helping my grief. I thought that giving it up for Lent would allow me to break my pattern and move on.
Trouble was, I gave it up as a sacrifice, not a surrender. Let me explain, I gave up wine as a sacrifice of something I loved and looked forward to getting back to once Lent was over. I did not give it up as a surrender of my will to God’s will. I was keeping my will in focus. I would start drinking again after Lent, just not as much.
As a result, I lasted a little over 2 weeks with my Lenten sacrifice and began drinking again, long before the renewal of Easter arrived. I can no longer remember what I told myself, or how I justified it, I just started drinking again, every night, a lot, and continued on and off for nine years.
I began this Lenten season unsure of what I would sacrifice, what human vice I would give up as a gift to God. I’ve never been very good at the rituals of Lent, my childhood Protestant church did not, in my memory, really stress the importance of Lent; not the way I experience it now in the Episcopal Church.
This year, in early March during the second week of Lent I began to notice countless signs and messages that NOW was the time to stop drinking. God was speaking to me in many ways and introducing me to people who were uniquely qualified to support me at that very moment. At the time I did not see stopping drinking in relation to Lent. I was simply getting the clear message that now was the time to surrender my will to God’s and lean on His strength and guidance to help me walk this new path of sobriety. And so, three weeks to the day after Ash Wednesday 2018, I attended my first AA meeting, my Day 1 of sobriety.
I did not realize until several days later as I walked in the crisp, cold, clear sunshine of a Lenten Sunday, how beautifully and perfectly this tapestry of my Fractured Lent was woven, by God, as only He can. My fractured Lent, which began 9 years ago, and included a long and difficult journey though the wilderness, will now end with the Hallelujah of Easter Sunday.