Humility Granted: an Ash Wednesday to Remember

I have many memorable moments from Ash Wednesdays past. It seems to me that perhaps every year begins Lent with a new spiritual growth theme for me, which becomes clear and evident on Ash Wednesday.

I took a big gulp and said it. I asked for it. I said the words “Lord, let me feel truly humble this Ash Wednesday as I begin my Lenten journey.” I remember the last time I heard someone ask for humility, it was my cousin who drove the hottest cherry-red little sports car in town, and when he prayed for humility, his precious car was towed away, not even a few hours later. Being like my little brother at the time, I actually got a great kick out of that story, and was reminded, once again, at the Lord’s awesome sense of humor!

So I asked to be humbled, knowing that God was wanting me to grow deeper in faith, and that I needed to be totally trusting and unafraid to change for Him this Lent.

The school mass was very crowded. Cirque and JD were little, so we sat in the cry room for most of the mass. We went up and received our ashes. I remember all eyes upon us as we walked, being the last in line after our emerging from the back of church. Cirque squiggled in my arms and JD obediently followed as always. I had a new outfit on, and remember feeling better about myself, when I dressed for mass that day.

At the end of mass, we brought up the tail of the procession once again, and this time Cirque was a little more wriggly, and JD not quite as obedient, (though rarely 100% rebellious).

I received Our Lord and turned the corner to make the long walk back to the quiet room. Being last in line, it can feel as though everyone is watching. I also remember some of the children in LB’s class murmur “There is your mom!” as we passed. We were half way down the second aisle though, when a woman began to chase after me. I quickened my step thinking perhaps she was sick, or was after a little one who had bustled off to the back of church. She hastened after me and was now, in addition to catching up to me, stretching her hand out toward my behind and my leg. “How strange!” I thought. I felt for sure she had the wrong person, or there was a misunderstanding, but before I could protest, she ripped–in a quick motion–a long sticker from the back of my new pants. It was the SIZE STRIP! “You had this on your pants still!” She said panting. It took me a moment to understand that she was trying to help me, and how ardently she meant to reduce my humility, which at that point had reached it height. I strutted down the aisle before the entire church (filled to capacity, mind you) with the size of my pants posted in 48 font size, down the back of my leg (in true size strip method; again and again and again.)

Many of us moms keep our growing pant sizes a great secret. Once things stretch and change to accommodate the growth of small souls in your body, things are, well, different. Growth happens all around, and rarely does it spring back to what it was before. I have only heard a friend, sister or confident confess her pant size to me twice in my adult life. Now my (larger than what it seems) pant size, and the fact that I didn’t wash the pants before I wore them, was displayed before the entire school.

Sweet humility. It was a fervent prayer, and the beginning of a beautiful Lent.

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