I know people who dread Lent. I do not. Perhaps this is partly because no one has ever been able to accuse me of being too hard on myself when it comes to mortifications of the flesh. Since I came back to the Catholic Church, I've found the season of Lent a wonderful time of interior retreat no matter what my outside circumstances.
During Lent of 2004, I was a widow of one year, with a new job, living alone (for the first time ever) in an apartment in a new city far from my home town. My taxing and rather erratic job and travel schedule prevented me from becoming involved in outside activities or meeting many people; to top it off, television reception in my apartment was poor. Seeing what I've just written, and knowing the warm and extroverted woman I am, it sounds like it would have been a prison. But it was not. I did not feel bereft. Instead, God was disengaging the gears that ennmeshed me within my life while he shifted them.
I was a practicing Protestant at the time, but there was a Catholic parish halfway between my apartment and work, so I began attending daily Mass. I started reading books and following Catholic blogs. Good friends answered my questions, including the Catholic gentleman who had taken me to dinner just before I left and who continued to keep in touch.
My life was simple, peaceful, rewarding, quiet, different.
On the Saturday of Palm Sunday weekend, I met the priest of that local parish and made my confession. I went to Mass later that afternoon and had to keep myself from lunging at the Eucharist (as I expressed it at the time to my co-blogger). On Sunday, I watched the Passion of the Christ for the first time. On Thursday, I flew home and participated in my home parish's celebration of the Triduum. I can't express to you what it meant to me.
What is Lent? For me, it's captured in the gospel reading we will hear in several weeks on the Feast of the Transfiguration: They looked around them, but saw nothing any more except Jesus only.