Today is Ash Wednesday and I have had to sit on myself to not say, "Happy Ash Wednesday!" as it is not an "officially official" holiday. And, is it really something that is supposed to be "happy?" Don't get me wrong, FAT Tuesday-- now that's a happy holiday. Ash Wednesday is like the ancient hangover from Mardi Gras.
St. Patrick's day is not "officially official" either, but people walk around wearing green and saying, "Erin Go Braugh!" and "Happy St. Patty's!" without the slightest idea of who St. Patrick was or have the first bit of Irish blood running through them. They make pilgrimages to Savannah, Dublin, and... um... other places that have an Irish heritage. Today, while not strutting green, Eileen & I did strut black ashes on our forehead. We were not drinking green beer or creme de minte; we were eating food that did not contain meat. We did attend mass- similar to both occasions, but this mass did not include big hair, eighteen shades of the same color and the more lively atmosphere March 17th has.
Walking home today, a garbage man stopped me and Eileen and asked, "Hey- why e'eryone have dose black spots on they head for today?" And, for the first time, I spread the word of God. "Today is Ash Wednesday and we've received the ashes of last years burnt palms. Today is the start of lent, a day of repentance, and a day to remember that we are dust, and to dust thou shall return. (~Genesis 3:.... my Catholic education is escaping me at the moment.) I am sure that he thought I was a loon, which I'm okay with, but in that moment- I registered why we do what we do, why we believe what we believe.
And I was happy for the two horribly embarrassing melt downs my daughter had in the aisle today at mass. And happy for the ancient woman who came up to us afterwards to ask if THIS was the child who had the great lungs. And re-relished the looks from the older-than-me adults who knew what I was dealing with trying to wrangle the flailing child.
Little girls can be dressed up in the most precious of dresses, but they are just little girls, fits and all.