Rewind please, to about a week ago. It’s lunchtime and I’m looking for my Indian food cart along Park Avenue. As I pass St. Bart’s church, there is a flurry of activity along the sidewalk and the stairs leading up to the church doors, more so than usual. I look up at the crowd of people coming down the stairs and I see the signs.
It’s Ash Wednesday.
I knew the day was coming up soon; I had prepped the family members I knew were going to be around that we would be going to church that night. I had made a Mardi Gras King Cake a few nights before to have after our pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. But when I woke up that Wednesday, I had totally forgotten the date.
A funny thing happened on the way to the Indian food place that day. As I looked at the persons marked with ashes, I grew increasingly jealous. Here they were, all these penitents, humbly blessed and outwardly proclaiming their beliefs while my own head remained naked. I almost ducked into St. Bart’s for ashes, but remembered I promised to go with Zombiegirl later that night.
I couldn’t WAIT to get to church that night. The need I felt to connect with God was intense, almost a hunger. Which was odd, since I am a quiet Christian.
I DON’T make a joyful noise about believing in God and Jesus Christ. I believe, and that’s basically that. While you can’t persuade me otherwise, I don’t try to persuade anyone to my beliefs. I would make a lousy missionary- I wouldn’t be able to convert anyone. I can’t debate the Bible or creationism even though I’ve read and believe in both. So I believe what I believe because my heart and gut tells me so. Bible-thumping and preaching and any outward displays of Christianity have never been my forte. I AM a quiet Christian. Which is why that green emotion welling up in my chest surprised me. I wanted to be part of this crowd, wearing their literal hearts on their sleeves, showing everyone what they believe in.
At church that night kneeling besides Z-girl, I received the blessed ashes as a symbol of penance and reflection. We were told to do good works, be kind and prepare our hearts during the Lenten season for the Resurrection. Fasting and prayer should be part of our daily routine for the 40 days leading up to Easter. So, on the way home, I asked Zombiegirl what she was going to give up for Lent.
Since school and homework weren’t options, and since I’ve already given up meat, we agreed (with MR and Rob as our witnesses) to give up fast food. NOT that we eat a lot of it, but I do find it’s easier to grab Mickey D’s on a day I forgot to take something out of the freezer. Zombiegirl likes it too much so it was a good choice for her, too. I went a step further and included Chinese food too.
We also discussed getting more involved in community service- at our local homeless shelter, children’s hospital or soup kitchen. I’m going to have to enlist Pastor’s help in this one, but we talked about her bringing a board game or two to the shelter/hospital to play with the kids there. I want her to reach out to the less fortunate and give more of herself. It’ll be good for me, as well. I’m really trying to be a more patient and kinder person, especially during Lent.
Dang it, though, it’s hard.
It’s hard to be grateful to the person helping me sell Girl Scout cookies when I know I’m being gypped out of money. Yes, I’ll never ever learn.
It’s hard not to kick people (a New! Fun! Exciting! pastime of mine I’ve been engaging in) as they walk directly in front of me as if I’m not even there.
It’s hard to bite your tongue when you see how much work your spouse is doing at a yearly job and not getting enough compensation for it.
It’s hard not to slam the phone down repeatedly on the idiotic people you work with.
It’s hard to be kind to (and not throttle) the stupid, ignorant and uncaring people you come in contact with every day.
It’s hard to look in the mirror and try to see yourself as others see you. To see that reflection and reflect on who this person really is. And try not to be such a bitch.
St. A has a sign on their front lawn: “Lent is Spring Training for Christians”. Spring training for anything is hard, all that work after a cold, wicked winter. So I guess that’s the point, that Lent isn’t easy. Neither was dying on a cross.
So this child of God will try to be patient, kind and helpful. She will read the book of Psalms over the next 40 days and strengthen her relationship with God. She will shun Burger King’s Veggie burger and onion rings and will keep her foot and her bitchiness in check.
By Easter, this child of God will be hitting home runs.