Written by Art Petrosemolo
Lent started on Valentine’s Day…. Isn’t that ironic? First time I can ever remember that…. And Easter, the most holy day in the Christian calendar, will be on April (Fool’s Day) 1. Well at least we won’t forget the “when” this year.
Many Christians try to make pledges during Lent either in a positive fashion doing good works, attending special services or praying for friends. Others take a different approach, denying themselves of a simple pleasure like eating between meals, sweets or even their nightly glass of wine.
I had a reminder today of a Lentin tradition a friend told me about several years ago that I will add to my observance of this important time of year. I was reminded when I read the morning post in the online Our Daily Bread reflection and scripture reading from the Our Daily Bread Ministries in Michigan. I started reading Our Daily Bread about a year ago as part of my morning prayer and meditation before I dive into the day.
The title of the post was “The Blessing Bowl” and talked about a person receiving an email from a far-away friend that celebrated their friendship and love over the years. It was a surprise and it turned out the friend saved Christmas cards and put one in a “blessing” bowl each day and pulled it out and reached out via email to that individual to celebrate their friendship and relationship over time.
It suddenly reminded me of a friend and colleague, Gerry Bellotti, from my years working at Fairleigh Dickinson University. Gerry was the University alumni director and we worked in the same department where I was FDU’s chief public relations officer and assistant to the president.
About halfway through Lent early in the 2000s I think, Gerry reached out to me by email to say that on the following day I would be in his prayers all day. I was a little surprised and taken back and wondered what I had done or not done to deserve his prayers. Gerry told me that during lent, he makes a list of friends, living and dead, and each day tries to remember them and pray for them in a special way.
What a great idea I thought and for the next couple of years, I did the same. It took some time to compose the list but we all have more than 40 friends to cover the 40 days of Lent so, at times, I had two or three people each day. It gave me a chance to reach out to those friends from my childhood who I had not seen in years, to colleagues who mentored me early in my career to current social and business friends and even a few whose friendship had cooled for one reason or another.
I did it for two Lentin seasons I think…maybe three. Then, like a lot of good intentions, I got too busy to create the list or I just recalled certain friends from memory each morning as I took a few moments for prayer while commuting to work.
To be honest, I had almost forgotten entirely about the tradition or would recall it a week or so before Lent and say to myself, “Oh, I should do that again….” And that was it.
Well the post in Our Daily Bread today, the day before the start of Lent, has given me the push to revive Gerry’s Lentin tradition. I have lots of new friends from the Plain community to add to my list of family, friends and colleagues. I am excited to make each and every one of them part of my morning prayer and meditation and to remember something special about each of them that affected me and warms my heart.