Today is Fat Tuesday.
Where I grew up, we called it Fastnacht Day, and even the secular world ate donuts in those parts. Seriously, radio DJs across central Pennsylvania broadcast from outside fire houses and various hometown businesses selling “fastnachts” as fundraisers on this particular Tuesday morning every year. (The senior women in my mom’s rural Methodist church took pre-orders in the weeks leading up to Fastnacht Day, and you could request the cinnamon sugar variety or just regular old boring ones.) Fastnachts are a particular kind of donut, and truth be told I didn’t really like them that much.
But I do feel a bit nostalgic about donuts on Fat Tuesday, and I’m a fan of enjoying a little splurge on the day before we head into Lent, as it was in the earliest custom of celebrating Mardi Gras.
Oh, hey, I guess I should mention that I’m not eating grain, dairy, sugar, or legumes right now. Yeah, it’s a sad day for me. Probably been my least-fattening Fat Tuesday on record.
But I have been thinking a lot about seasons and how they change.
I’ve been thinking about how your dad and I try so hard to live the liturgical calendar in meaningful ways, but every time it circles around, life keeps circling around, too, keeps making the experience richer but also, some years, more exhausting.
This year mostly feels full, rather than chaotic, but full to the brim, and my shoulders, I’ll admit, are a little tired with helping my loved ones bear burdens. In all the good ways, I mean.
It’s what life is like when you’re living the Kingdom, living the seasons alongside others, witnessing the mountains and the valleys of the journey.
So many journeys.
But we keep putting one foot in front of the other, whether or not we ate donuts on Fastnacht Day.
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday.
Tomorrow is also Valentines Day.
Friday is Chinese New Year.
Your cousins are coming to stay with us this weekend.
A week ago, a friend had a tiny, tiny premature baby who weighed less than two pounds.
Yesterday my amazing friend came home from the hospital.
Today, one of you woke up with pink eye.
Next week is our homeschool co-op’s Spring Break.
The week after that, a friend is scheduled to have her fourth C-section.
Another dear, sweet friend is embarking on an adoption journey that will take many months and much hard work.
One of your dad’s cousins is getting married in a few weekends, and we’ll get to spend good time with the extended Wise clan.
Your grandparents will be here the following weekend.
One of my childhood BFFs is changing jobs and moving to a new state at the end of Lent.
Right now, as I type this, multiple friends are praying for parents with late-stage cancers, waiting, seeking peace.
Friends I’m journeying alongside have chronic illness, mental health struggles, children making difficult decisions.
A friend is beginning her dissertation.
A friend is working on her marriage.
A friend is starting a business.
So many friends with so many seasons and so much change.
And we keep on going, together.
Sometimes eating fastnachts. Sometimes gathering for prayer.
Sometimes just showing up, or sending a text, or opening your door to your neighbor, looking that stranger right in the eye and asking how she is doing.
Sometimes just breathing, putting a stamp on a postcard, closing your eyes and enjoying the sunshine on your face.
Welcoming in a child with pinkeye, celebrating Chinese New Years with a dancing dragon while eating Thai food on Fat Tuesday.
This is how you live community.
This is how you love your people.
You live in the season you’re in.