You know, sometimes a wonderful opportunity just plops in your lap. Like tonight, when we were rushing around to get to 5 pm mass. Becca was just getting home from track and needed to shower, we were rushing around getting ready, there was a missing shoe, and somehow, when we got in the SUV to go to church, there was an extra kid in my car! Dropped her off -- got to church and lookie there -- everyone and their brother is at 5 pm Ash Wednesday mass! Yippee!!!
So, I dropped the kids off at the front door (so we weren't ALL late) and head back around to find a parking spot. Look. I found one. Well, it wasn't really a parking spot, per se, but Jim and I coined the phrase "Kaiser Spot" a long time ago. It's that spot that you park your car in at church when there's no where else to park and you're late. So, I parked in the Kaiser Spot.
I rush into church, looking for my family, just as everyone is sitting for the readings. Yeah, that wasn't embarassing. LOL Just as I find the kids and get to the pew, our music/liturgy coordinator comes up to me and says, "Can you distribute the bowl tonight in the chapel?" Sure, I say.
"Oh, by the way," he says, "can you distribute ashes, too?" I think I gave him a scared look....."What do I need to know about distributing ashes?" I ask. I can easily distribute communion on a whim, but ashes notsomuch. After all, we only do ashes once a year. How am I supposed to remember what to say?
He says, "Just remember: 'Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel.'"
OK. That's all you got for me? Really? OK. I can wing this. LOL
So, I spent the better part of the first two readings repeating that phrase -- over and over and over again, worrying about if I forgot it -- what would I do?
So, it comes time for me to receive ashes from father -- I pick that up that I'm supposed to head to the altar....and look at the little bowls of ashes and smile. For there, beside the bowls, are little pieces of paper with my script on it! Whew!!! (And, for the record, I didn't need to look at the script once -- it was just insurance!) It's moments like these that I wonder why I worry -- God will always take care of us. :)
But, I want to tell you about the act of giving out ashes. Man, was it powerful for me tonight. Really, ashes are just a symbol of us entering into lent -- a period of reflecting, repentance, and prayer, but tonight was a neat moment for me. As I was distributing ashes on people's foreheads, I looked into their eyes to give them the message bestowed onto me -- and several times I felt very deeply that I was looking into the eyes of Jesus. I actually got goose bumps while distributing -- it was that powerful.
It was at that point that I realized how much we (at least I) take advantage of the opportunities our church gives us. I made the most of distributing those ashes tonight, hoping that we all were entering this season with the same feelings.
I love to distribute the body and blood of our Lord. What a wonderful gift that I am allowed to do this. I love love LOVE to stand on the altar behind Father and watch him consume the bread and the wine -- what a very powerful moment. Tonight was no different.
During Lent, we use the "plain" dishes -- no crystal, just ceramic dishes and stainless steel cups -- in the spirit of simpleness. I like them. It reminds me of what Jesus used -- no fancy stuff, let's just break bread together and share.
I hope that you were able to enjoy Ash Wednesday services wherever you were tonight -- and that they were as powerful for you as they were for me!
(I have to mention that not only did we get a GREAT mass at 5, but then were treated to a terrifc soup supper by the youth group, AND I was home by 7 pm on a Wednesday night. Winners all around! Now I can watch American Idol! Yeah!)