This morning I attacked Tim with a “Plan of Attack” for tomorrow. We have a 7:00 am departure time for one carpool, a 7:30 drop off for another, the Lad bringing up the rear with a 9:00 start time. We have an 11:45 dismissal, a 4:30 pick up across town, and a soccer meeting at 6:30. I leave for work at 4:00, so Tim is on his own for those last two items on the agenda, plus dinner and homework.
This is a fairly typical Wednesday.
Tomorrow is also Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten season, so I threw some mass times at him as well. The local church bulletin listed services at 8:00 am, 5:30 and 7:00 pm.
“Which one can you make?” I queried. “Kiko is going at school; Finn and I can go to 8:00 am. Can you make it to the 5:30 with Molly, after your 4:30 pick up and before the 6:30 meeting?”
He looked at me like I was insane and I bristled. He wasn’t raised in a Catholic home, so I just knew what he was going to say. We don’t need to go tomorrow. We have a crazy schedule; let it go. You sound like your mother.
I was wrong.
He said, “Can we pull Molly from school in the morning? I’ll go into work late and we can go as a family at 8:00.” I must have looked surprised, because he clarified, “If we all go separately, whenever it fits, then it feels like something we ‘have to do.’ I want it to feel like we mean it, like it’s sacred space and time.”
Gulp. I was being religious, but not spiritual.
In my last blog, I spoke about people who honor rules and traditions more than their meaning. In this blog, I wanted to show you how easily it can happen. In the busyness of my life, in my planning and organizing mode, I lost sight of the holiness of the ritual, the significance of it all. While I was thinking “Get it done,” Tim was thinking, “It’s only worth doing if we do it right.” Have I mentioned lately how grateful I am to be married to this man?
As someone who is spiritual and religious, I seek the balance between the two. I don’t want to follow a set of instructions mindlessly, but I don’t want to throw them out either. It seems to me that Tim’s wisdom is something I need to carry into this 40 day season of Lent as well.
Some years, I get lucky. On just the right Wednesday in February, my mind and heart are open to experience the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life. Some years, I don’t. Whether from stress, or illness, or just plain busyness, I am less prepared to recognize an invitation to Love. This is where religion can be our best friend, or our worst enemy. Following traditions and worshipping as a community can open us up when our hearts are closed down, but if we go through the motions without engagement and intention for too long, then we lose their meaning entirely.
Tonight, our family will celebrate a G-rated Mardi Gras. I don’t have to teach, so I’ll make a nice meal and we will sit around the table, listen to music and tell stories. I bet we’ll laugh and probably bicker as well. We’ll talk about Lent and what it means to be in the desert, to be scared and tempted and lonely, but we’ll also talk about what waits for us on the other side, if we trust in the power and presence of Love.
Though the kids might discuss what to ‘give up,’ I’m going to share how the tradition got started in the first place. I don’t want them worrying about “getting it done,” because “It’s only worth doing if we do it right.” Apparently, in this case, their father knows best.