My mother was buried just before the beginning of Lent. As the urn was lowered into the ground the words from Genesis, often associated with Ash Wednesday, came to mind: “For dust you are and to dust you will return.”The thought was surprising; Lent was the farthest thing from my mind at that moment. The focus was on the quiet of the cemetery and the small group gathered for the last act of letting her go. The finality of the burial was almost as difficult to witness as her actual passing had been; it was so different from the liturgy celebrating her life that was full of music and people, tears and laughter, and the energy that flows from that mix.The traditions surrounding death were now complete. We had laid her to rest. We celebrated her life just a few days before Christmas and said our final farewells as Lent was on the horizon. It is fitting that liturgical seasons bookended this experience because her life revolved around the Church and its seasons. It was from the Church that my mother drew her strength and it was from the Church that she built a wide social network. She observed Lent faithfully and passed her observances on to her children. She taught us about Lent not in theological terms but in actions and attitudes. We knew Lent was special and demanded attention. In the end, each of us makes our own decisions in terms of faith practices. We keep what is significant and brings us into a closer relationship with God and move away from what does not foster this relationship.Meat was absent on Fridays and there was always a call to sacrifice. During Lent she would give up sweets of all sorts, except on Sundays. That came from her family tradition. She also went to early morning Mass, a practice her mother observed. So when thinking about a personal focus for Lent, I thought of my mother and reviewed choices that came from her influence.I could choose to make a concerted effort to look for the good in everything, ignoring the negative in thinking and speaking. This idea came from a realization made by my sister and me that our mother had many friends because she cultivated the positive attributes of others and ignored the negative. She was accepting of others just as they were. We used to good-naturedly tease her about being a Pollyanna, yet the attitude of looking at the good in life served her well and left us a worthwhile legacy. To make an attempt to live this way would surely be a valuable Lenten resolution.I also thought about her practice of giving up sweets for Lent. It was not a fit for me but it did lead to thinking about giving up other things. Or, I could make the effort to be at Mass every morning. Any of these ideas generated by years of her example could be considered in an attempt to make Lent meaningful.In the end, each of us makes our own decisions in terms of faith practices. We keep what is significant and brings us into a closer relationship with God and move away from what does not foster this relationship.Resources from the Year of Faith offer a number of great ideas for Lent including reading profiles of saints and the holy men and women of the Bible, reflecting daily on Scripture, setting aside a specific time each day for quiet contemplation or reading poems that capture the joy and surprise of faith. The possibilities for allowing this Lent to become a time of personal and spiritual growth are open to the imagination. Lent may pose a special challenge to some this year as our Church struggles through troubled waters. The human errors remind us that our faith is not in an institution or a group of people but in God, manifested for humanity through Jesus Christ. Ultimately it is Jesus that we turn to, and while the Church is often the community we seek to make that connection, it is still a human institution with all the imperfections inherent in anything human. As each individual learns, grows and changes so does the Church. Simply choosing to live each day with a spirit of gratitude, mindful of the words from Genesis that life is short, might also be a good way to proceed through this Lenten season. Anne Hansen is a member of the Camarillo Catholic community. Her e-mail address is [email protected].