Of course, I was a Church of Christ kid attending these Catholic schools and I was amply warned about all things Catholic. So while I was being exposed to Catholicism during these years I was wary and critical of it. I didn't have an open, inquisitive spirit.
Except when it came to one particular thing. The Stations of the Cross.
My first exposure to The Stations of the Cross was eye-opening. I found it profoundly moving. And disconcerting. I remember feeling shaken when the service ended with Jesus dead and laid in the tomb. Ending on that somber note was extraordinarily powerful and profound. I'd never been to a church service that ended in such darkness. And then we did it again. And again. And again. Each Friday of Lent my classmates and I would walk to the sanctuary go through the Stations of the Cross.
That repeated visitation of darkness marked me, deeply and emotionally.
In my experience, there is nothing quite like The Stations of the Cross in evangelicalism or low-church Protestantism. And I think we're the poorer for it. I know a lot of our churches are experimenting with Ash Wednesday and "giving up" something for Lent.
But for me, The Stations of the Cross are the heart and soul of Lenten observance.