Although my relationship with the Roman Catholic Church has been shaky at best, I do miss certain parts of it from time to time. One of those parts is the concept of Lent, the forty-day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, during which I used to give up certain things I loved: chocolate, comic books, coffee, cursing. I relished going to Mass at the end of Lent because in my church all crucifixes and statues were covered up by gigantic pieces of purple cloth. It reminded me of the anticipation right before the curtain goes up in a theatre. Something big is about to happen, something you will want to see.
Although I no longer consider myself a Catholic, or even a Christian, I am celebrating Lent this year not by giving something up but by giving my time. This was in part inspired by my colleague Sr. Aquinas, who passed away Monday. Every time I saw her, she always had time for a smile and a hello, often also a short chat about the library and how my life was going. I worked with her on the campus’ disaster preparedness plan, and she actually made it fun. Sr. Aquinas devoted her life to God, and her time to this institution, and did it all with grace and peace. She was a remarkable human being, and as close to a saint as I’ve ever met. I miss her already.
Since my previous volunteer contract as an ESL tutor came to an end, I have been searching for another volunteer opportunity, something different yet still valuable. I miss the experience of spending time with my grandparents and people like Sr. Aquinas who had the wit and wisdom that comes with age, so I found a housing community that matches volunteers with seniors for visits two hours a week. I start this month.