I love Lent. I love the emptiness of Ash Wednesday. How you take everything and just let it all go: people you have issues with, ok our enemies, but it seems so harsh to call anyone my enemy. The mantra I’ve adopted for the next 40 days is “Soon we’ll all dead.” A girl needs something to look forward to. Nothing else really matters, right? Ashes to ashes and all that.
Three years ago I was alone on Ash Wednesday at a church in Wilmington and feeling very low. It was before the bankruptcy and I was worried we would lose everything. I kept praying God don’t take everything, please not everything. I kept praying for faith and realizing that if I had real faith it wouldn’t matter what else He took. I kept trying to convince myself that if I told God I would still be okay if we lost everything then he wouldn’t take absolutely everything. But you can’t play mind games with God. One Holy Week when I was in my twenties I walked to church with my mom and Father Dugan told the story of Job. God took it all just to test him. Even his family. I remember at the time thinking, okay take the stuff but not my family. I don’t think I could bear it. Then I became afraid – What if God takes my family to prove to me all I need is Him?
Where is all this going? That I guess most important is faith, love and health and all the other stuff is just fluff. Maybe I was a monk in my last life, I’m such a minimalist. I often wonder how little I could get by with. It probably stems from my childhood, wondering what I’d take if we had to leave and start over. I’d make lists wondering what was most important and see how much I could stuff into a backpack or a duffle bag. I still think like that sometimes. What would I take if I could only keep what I could carry? What if I could fill my car? What if I got that VW hippie camper? What would I bring then? Gandhi only had a pair of sandals and his eyeglasses, I think. Jesus just his sandals. When I taught Catholic school we shared the story of St. Francis of Assisi, – how when he died he had candy in his pockets because he so loved the children. The accompanying article went on to suggest what you carry with you shows what you are. At the time I had on this denim jacket (with a skirt believe it or not, I was more stylish then) and in the pockets I had a lipstick, a tube of Vaseline (lip balm) and a knife. I had carried a knife on me since college. I showed the items to Dan and asked what the items said about me. “It means you’re a whore!” he choked and laughed simultaneously.
I bet Mary Magdalene loved Lent, too.