Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bring It On!

This morning, I hit my snooze button three times. Un, deux, trois. And it was raining outside. Delicious sleep. Then I remembered it was Ash Wednesday and leapt from bed. Then I realized it was too late to make 8 a.m. Mass.


Part of my Lenten goals is to get up when my alarm goes off, on the first try. It's a self-discipline thing; when it comes to the morning hours, I am severely lacking. At least in college, when my sleep hours were highly erratic and I wouldn't think twice about pulling a week of all-nighters (we called them "graveyard shifts" among the Americans Studies majors), I could bounce out of bed at the thought of being late for class or not being productive enough. Since entering the Real World, however, those short sleeping hours do not cut it. I cling to every minute I can spend horizontal, with my eyes closed and my blankets piled on top of me.

Thus, for Lent, I am giving up hitting my snooze button.

Do y'all ever feel that way? The comfortable tide of living your life, even when you know you're being naughty (ahem, abusing my snooze button), continues to roll you through the days until... you hit Lent.

Things I am giving up for Lent:
1. hitting my snooze button
2. keeping my crackberry on my desk/ near me
3. sweets (especially [girl scout] cookies and [birthday] cake, but not fruit pies)

I will also be going to confession and adoration at least once a week as a spiritual exercise, as well as multiple Masses during the week, not just Sunday.

On the plus side, Dad and I got fish and chips for lunch today as our one big meal (Ash Wednesday is a day of fasting in the Catholic Church), and it was delicious.

Last night was fun too! With 5/8th of the family home, the Robisons had a little Fat Tuesday party at dinner...

Boo made a cake and decorated for March!

Boo and Mom with the king cake Boo baked! Mom was the "king" of Fat Tuesday!

Even our cat donned some beads! Then demanded his Fancy Feast.
I'll go to Mass tonight. I really love the Ash Wednesday service, and I look forward to getting ashes on my forehead. I didn't always, but a few years ago, I traveled to Washington, D.C. on Ash Wednesday. I was terribly nervous about traveling and being so public with ashes on my forehead. I suppose I could have wiped them off (there is no rule about keeping them on), but then, I would have felt ashamed of myself. Like I was ashamed of being a Christian. So off to the Detroit International airpot I went, large ashes on my forehead, and my suitcase behind me!

The experience was transforming. The way people treated me, the conversations I got into, the kindness I experienced from strangers on that day has not been forgotten.

One man, while we were going on security, started talking to me about how he fell away, but how he wished he had gone today; how he was going to reunite with his brother in South America. As he left, we both turned to each other, smiled, and said "God bless."

A little girl from L.A. asked me if I had a tattoo on my forehead, and I explained that, in my religion, today was a day of repentence as we prepare for Lent, and the coming of Jesus. That might have been over her head, but I smiled and I hope a seed was planted. I might have been the first Christian she met!

Even last month, when I went to Georgia, I usually pray a rosary on my flights. I'm not super-showy about it, but the man diagonally behind me still tapped me on the arm and said, "Thanks!" I smiled and said, "for what?" He sort of pointed at my hands, where my rosary was wrapped around my left hand, and said, "you know, that. Extra protection and all!" I thought that was funny, and reassuring how people still find comfort in the power of people praying.

By having the visible signs of repentence (e.g. the ashes in the sign of the cross on one's forehead), it humbles a person before the eyes of others. I found out on Monday that anyone- non-believers and other Christians- can receive the ashes. It is not a sacrament, but rather, a visible sign of mercy to those who wish to repent. I am glad we can all share in this.

Giving up stuff for Lent can be seen as superfluous and simply a false offering, but it is meant to draw the person closer to Christ. The discipline it takes to not eat candy or volunteer at the shelter every week or not hitting one's sister while riding a bike shows an attitude towards God's grace. Conversion becomes a reality, every day.

In terms of a Lenten sacrifice, one of the ladies at RCIA on Monday told the group this and I love it:

If you are having problems with God, focus on prayer.
If you are having problems with you, focus on fasting.
If you are having problems with others, focus on almsgiving (charity).

And a very happy Ash Wednesday to you all! For two good reads, check out "Eliot’s Ash-Wednesday, 81 years later. Timeless. Sacramental." by Brad Birzer and "Why We Need Lent" by Fr. George Rutler. Many blessings on your day!


  1. I was reading your beautiful piece and didn't expect the bicycle part. Haha, thanks! What you wrote about walking through the airport with ashes on your head was really nice. Big smiles!

  2. So much good stuff in this post, I don't know where to begin!

    I like the snooze button idea. If that was my sacrifice for Lent, I would have failed on day 1. I loved the airport stories! How beautiful to see the impact that a smudge reminder of the cross can have on those in an airport. Airports are succulent places for people watching. Everyone has something in common: they're trying to go somewhere else and from there on, you must watch to witness the diversity.

  3. Yesterday, the girls and I went to 9:30 a mass, and then the library. Everyone did act a little more friendly!

    I am also trying to get up with the alarm clock, so I better say good-night now!