You wouldn’t think of it as a characteristic of Lent, but what comes to mind this week is the expression, Take a load off. Usually that means, sit down and take a load off your feet, but its shortened version has come to mean much more.
One of the things we did to take a load off around here in the rectory was to sort and jettison all of our expired financial archives and records. Delfina Castro, who has been our Business Manager here for well over a decade, is retiring this spring. We have already brought on Ron Farias as her successor -- there could never be a replacement! In addition to helping him learn all the systems and actions that will fill his days, Delfina was determined to clear out our records and leave an organized and lean archive. So, on Saint Patrick’s day, the shredder truck came and relieved us of a load so big it required two photos, in two rooms:
Then, last week, we unloaded in a different way. It was the annual Archdiocesan Lenten Food Drive. Because we are spending less money on ourselves in this season of fasting and abstinence, we were able to pull together a pretty impressive load of edibles for the Capital Food Bank:
That does not include the bags that were left in the school – I was unable to get a photo of that. Daina Scheider, who coordinated the drive for us, reports that the load was an impressive one: 280 bags, or about 4,400 pounds. However, that is noticeably less than last year! Fear not – we will have another food drive before everyone leaves for summer vacation; we can make up the difference then.
Taking a load off during Lent can refer to getting rid of what we do not need, as we did with the old records. In reality, the only thing we truly need is God and what He gives us; everything else is expendable. It can be material stuff, noise that fills our heads with distraction, or worries that burden rather than help us.
It can also refer to unloading something that someone else really needs, and we are able to provide, as we did with the food drive. This is why almsgiving is an indispensible part of the setting-right of our relationship with God that is Lent.
But let us not forget that taking a load off also describes the liberating work of putting off our burden of sin. So by all means, go to confession! Get rid of all that baggage. The best part is, even as we take the load off, Jesus does all the heavy lifting!
Thus unburdened, we are able to move ahead, to move toward the Lord who is our light and our salvation. Having taken that load off, we are able to follow the Lord’s one instruction about what we should carry: Take up your cross and follow me. Daunting as that sounds, we believe Him when He tells us, My yoke is easy, and my burden light. And with that blessed load alone, we are ready for next week, and the Passion of the Lord.