Muted Colors – Lenten Journey

There is nothing ambiguous about Lent in the Orthodox tradition. No one contemplates what to give up, or how to spend more time in prayer and repentance. Everyone pretty much knows that you’re going vegan for the next seven plus weeks. Orthodox countries pull out their “Fasting” menus and we, sometimes reluctantly, get rid of all the cheese in the house.

Church services are more frequent and we don’t need thigh masters because our thighs get such a good workout from prostrations.

Coming from a background where Lent was mentioned, but it was more about giving up chocolate or, god forbid, coffee, and sometimes signing up for a daily meditation that would arrive in my inbox reminding me of the importance of this season, it has taken me some time to fully appreciate the intentionality of this faith tradition. I have come into it slowly, but I am embracing it fully.

This year, grief is the background of Lent. It colors everything with muted shades. The sky is not as blue, the brick houses are not as brown, our house is not as red, instead all of life feels muted. I know this will not be forever – instead it is a season. I remember hearing a speaker once talk about grief. “Our churches are full of hurting people,” she said “that don’t take a season to heal.” When we don’t take a season to heal, our grief comes out in other ways. When grief is frozen in time, it can take years to thaw.

Somehow, since it is Lent, and a season of repentance and preparation, I’m feeling the relief that comes with the freedom to cry, to mourn a broken world even as I experience the incredible grace that falls down on the broken and wounded. Lent gives me that time. It invites me into self-reflection in the midst of community, lest I become too inward focused.

And even as I repent and grieve, I’m also invited into a time of preparation that ultimately leads to the Resurrection and glory of Pascha. It is a time of repentance to be sure, but it’s also a time to experience fully the joy of forgiveness and delight in the mercy of God, given so freely to all. It is a time to remember that what I see is only part of the picture.

The muted shades of my life at this moment will one day be replaced with the glorious colors of a world beyond grief, where Lent will be no more, and every color will be richer and more glorious than we’ve ever seen.

8 thoughts on “Muted Colors – Lenten Journey

  1. Marilyn, I came across your site in my quest to find the pronunciation for Ragaouna Masr. I am narrating the audiobook version of The Man In the White Sharkskin Suit by Lucette Lagnado for Harper Publishing. Are you able to help me?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I did not presume you have regrets. I do. I have found this Lenten season more meaningful with my son nearer the end of his life. I am sorry for not phrasing that so well.


    1. Rebecca, this has been a very long journey for you and Rob, and I’m sure for your girls, too. I’m praying for God’s close presence, His comfort, and daily strength for you in this season. We lost Stan so suddenly but you have been slowly losing Moses for so long as you have so lovingly cared for him. I send my love and prayers. Polly Brown

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  3. Aquaiting Lent with grief and muted colors is so much easier for us to understand the true meaning of the Lenten season.

    As you enter into the season, may God continue the healing process of your broken heart. 💜 I Love You, Marilyn


  4. Marilyn, I am so very sorry for you this Lenten season. I fully understand the grief. But I also understand the need for repentance for not having done it all right in the past. May the Lord truly be with you.

    Liked by 1 person

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