So I am going to try and be concise….not too wordy. No promises though!
This year was kind of funny because Lent started on Valentine’s day. Not coming from a liturgical background, I have only started following this tradition. (In my own made up way) So a couple days ago, I was reading a blog written by a young Catholic woman, and she made the connection between Valentines day, the whole “love” thing, and Lent which prepares us for the remembrance of the greatest act of love ever. I thought that was kinda cool. Up to that point, the only connection I had made about the coincidence was to tease my friend that she may need to celebrate Valentines on Tuesday.
I had been thinking about how to mark the time till Easter, and had a few ideas, but there was another distraction for me. Along with Valentines, it was also my anniversary. Whoo hoo, 31 years!! That is worth thinking about and celebrating, isn’t it? So the day was full of the normal activities, plus some additional attention to the evening to come. It was a wonderful day reflecting on the blessing of my marriage, a cozy dinner, flowers, chocolate and good cheer.
I hadn’t been on the internet too much, but I did see the blurb about the shooting in Florida. I didn’t take a lot of time to read about it, but said a little prayer and continued on with what I was doing. I truthfully didn’t give it too much thought. I was preoccupied with my own blessings. It wasn’t until later when the full effect of the tragedy hit me, and how it played into the day. It was really the picture of the mother hugging her child that got me. On her forehead were ashes in the shape of a cross. I can picture it even now. I pondered how my great happiness and another mother’s sorrow could exist in the same moment. It was late though, so I went to bed.
So this morning, I thought of that woman again. I was reading in Lamentations;
“…They are clothed in burlap and throw dust on their heads…..” Lamentations 2:10.
I thought of the ashes on her forehead, and how they symbolized an attitude of penance. The same attitude that I saw in Lamentations.
I felt convicted. For some reason, this girl who has been a part of a “baptisty” church environment her whole life, wished she had gone to the local Catholic church to kneel, pray and have ashes put on her forehead. Who would have thought? I wished that when I had heard of the shooting, even in the midst of my own happiness, I had done something to be in solidarity with those who were in such pain. I didn’t though, because I did not let the horror of their day spoil mine. As I pondered it, I realized that I put myself and my own happiness above those who were hurting. I know that I could not physically do anything to help them, but according to 2 Chronicles, I can do something.
Maybe it is time that I truly mourn with others, with real repentance? I thought about Lent again, and how so many people give up something, and it made me wonder…… What am I willing to give up, so that something like this would never happen again?
I am not talking about the government, or changing laws, or the things we can’t seem to agree on. I am making this personal. If God came to me and said, “Cheryl….give this up to me and I will make sure this never happens again.” Would I be willing? What if it was money, my rights, my political position, my power, my time, could I say yes? It was then that God brought familiar words to me….
“Then if my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” 2Chronicles 7:14.