Lent’s here

It’s 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday, so it’s officially Lent. I didn’t mean to be up in the middle of the night, reading, catching up on the news sites, but I am. It’s quiet. I always appreciate the quiet of the Lenten season, the withdrawal to an interior space.

Shortly after I decided to live in Mexico some years back, Lent arrived. I remember being awake then, too, in the middle of the night, several nights in a row, as a matter of fact. I’d rented a house in the village of Tepotzlan, outside of Mexico City, a village famous for its cohete factory I’d learned after paying rent – a cohete being a very large, approximately three to four feet long bottle rocket about five inches in diameter. It made a very loud bang right over the house, the house being near the center of town.

Every night until eleven or so, for the few days I’d lived in the house, cohetes went off and every day dancers danced to a constant drumming in the market square. Brinca, they called it: the dance of jump, straight up and down. And they wore masks of the conquistadores. And capes. But closing down festivities at eleven at night was manageable. You can still sleep after eleven o’clock. But on Tuesday night, Fat Tuesday, the explosions went on. It will all stop on midnight on Tuesday, I kept telling myself.

I lied. It didn’t stop.

At two a.m. cohetes still exploded over the house; at three, four, five, erupting overhead in a frenzy of celebration. Finally, as dawn began to break in the east and tinge the tops of the trees, the explosions fell silent. Suddenly. Sun equaled silent.

It was an experience, as they say. By the next Lenten season, I’d left the village and moved to Mexico City. Oddly enough, a quieter environment with church bells replacing cohetes, but I will never forget the entry of Lent into the village life of Tepotzlan.

May you have some quiet time, this Lenten season. We all need it; life’s been ratcheting along again, we lose track of way too many things/moments/ideas. A friend asked what I was giving up for Lent this year, and I finally figured it out: I’m giving up abruptness and moving too fast.

And cohetes. Yes, I will give them up, too.

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