When Does Lent End?

Memories of Grandma   

April 12, 2020, Easter Sunday, Sitka, Alaska   

This year Lent started for us on a Thursday.  We completely lost Ash Wednesday because of an untimely crossing of the dateline.  So, we attended Ash Thursday services on MS Amsterdam.  The COVID-19 virus was just coming onto our radar and the service reflected it.  We passed the peace by turning to each other and flashing the “V” “peace” symbol from the ‘60s.  We took the wafer and dunked it into the wine, no common cup.

We had thought we would also celebrate Easter on Amsterdam but fate and COVID-19 intervened and we will celebrate in Sitka, but not in our normal circle with friends on the beach, passing the bread around the circle with a vase of flowers in the middle waiting to be tossed into the surf.  We will celebrate on Zoom, first with our small Sitka fellowship and then joining the larger Anchorage fellowship on zoom.  For Suzi and me this will be particularly nice because for 4 years we were members of the Anchorage Unitarian Fellowship.

But still, that leaves the awkward day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  Is it Lent?  My grandmother told me that lent Ended at noon Saturday.  When I was a kid, we would countdown until noon and when the all three hands pointed straight up.  Grandma would slip a piece of chocolate into my mouth ending the Lenten fast.  Then I had to skedaddle out of the kitchen.

I often wondered if that was liturgically correct or something that the women in the family came up with.  It’s hard to cook the Easter dinner with out tasting and sampling, and how can you do that during Lent? 

The on-line Catholic Calendar says that Lent ends when you take communion on Maundy Thursday.   That was certainly not the case when I was a kid, at least not as I remember it.  Good Friday was certainly part of Lent, especially when it came to fasting.  Reading on I found that the Catholic Church revised its end of lent in 1969 to make it 40 days (Sunday’s don’t count as part of Lent.)  Some Protestants still think Lent ends on Holy Saturday, some don’t.

As a Unitarian, I guess I can name my own ending for Lent.  I honor grandma and say it ends on Saturday.  But Saturday has always been the in between day.  Good Friday was always gloomy, even if it was bright, and Easter Sunday was always bright even when it was gloomy.  Saturday, well that was the day grandma fed me chocolate and I got out of the way so she could do her kitchen magic.  Mostly baking, Grandpa cooked the ham and potatoes. 

The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter has always been tinged with sadness.  Grandma died on Holy Saturday when I was 9.  Without telling my parents I made a basket of black construction paper and put it out on Easter Sunday.  It has some “Easter Grass” a piece of chocolate and a lipstick I bought grandma.  I was horrified when the basket made mom cry.  I always think of grandma before Easter.  The Saturday before Palm Sunday grandma seemed fine.  When I left her flat, she slipped a piece of chocolate in my mouth, a violation of the Lenten Fast.  I was horrified as only an overly pious 9-year-old could be.  But I wonder if she knew she wouldn’t be there the following Saturday to end my fast so she treated me early.

This Saturday I got up to find a beautiful day and a Coast Guard Cutter parked in my front yard.  This made me happy because it may be one of the few ships I see in my front yard this summer, with the cruise ship season either severely curtailed or cut completely.  Several new crocuses were up and new buds beginning to open. It as a fine spring day, and warmer than the last few days.

For my walk today I went along the Beach between Sandy Beach and Pioneer Park and back.  I walked there because someone posted that the whales were feeding off of the SeaMart grocery store.  They weren’t

Then it was a trip to Silver Bay to see if the whales were feeding there. Nope, but it was worth the trip.

Whatever your custom, make the most of this season of resurrection and rebirth.

4 thoughts on “When Does Lent End?

  1. I think Grandma would be ever so proud of the man you’ve become. God bless you and Suzi.

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