Have you ever noticed that one year you might happen to cook something, or do something on a particular day, and then just like that, it's a set-in-stone-indisputable-family-tradition? And so every year now, we have pretzels on Ash Wednesday, because that is just what we do. And pretzels are actually pretty delicious, as it so happens (it's all about the baking soda bath, guys! Trust me on this one). They actually happen to be Ben's very favorite food in the whole world. Doesn't it seem kind of like it's missing the whole point of lent to look forward all year to the food you will consume on Ash Wednesday? Hm. Well, for what it's worth, pretzels were originally developed as a Lenten food, and we read all about it. Does that help remedy the situation?
This year, we're not too concerned with fasting (which children and nursing women are exempt from). Nor are we worrying too much about getting out in the community to give alms, because our alms are happening right here in this household (I wonder whether "alms" is derived from the word almus, which means kind, fostering, or nourishing. Does this look familiar to any of the other young mothers out there? I had a good laugh when I saw the painting Alma Parens, because, especially as a nursing mother of multiple, that sums up my life!).
So prayer is the lenten practice that we're gravitating towards, which feels just perfect, because the life of a parent of small children is inherently a monastic one. Rythmic, intentional, and some may say harsh. There are calls to prayer. Cries in the night for milk from nursing babies, requests for a book to be read, for a meal to be prepared, for an injury to be nursed. They have a rhythm, these calls to prayer. They are persistent and unceasing and unrelenting. And yet they are also gentle and inviting and beautiful. A monastic life.
We are praying the Rosary together as a family, one decade at a time, which is something we've never done before. We hope to journey through the stations of the cross weekly. And we will be growing Easter grass, because, again, that is just how Lent is done around here! A seed for every time we place someone else above ourselves, and a whole planter full of grass, with any luck, by Easter morning. And so we begin this Lent!
::We had a salad with eggs and sardines (a favorite around here!). I wonder if everyone will make me do this again next year now?
::There are smiles everywhere. Can you tell that this is a spirited pair? That picture of the two of them together just has so much personality. I have a feeling we will be well entertained for many years to come with this dynamic duo. (Dorothy in white, Clara in hearts. They still look totally different to me!)
::We have lost Zosia to books. We go to the library every single week. And she checks out as many books as we let her, and proceeds to sit down and read them, back to back, until she's done. She seriously has no idea I'm taking her picture, above. Of course it tickles us to the core.