Lent has begun! I am feeling quite energized by it, though I’m trying not to be the crazy Baby Catholic who has to Give Up All The Things for Lent and totally go overboard. I’m please with what I have decided to do.
As I mentioned before, we’re giving up ice cream as a family. So we had an ice cream party for mardi gras.
And I have committed to two other specific things as well:
1. I’m giving up time (spent online) in order to exercise daily.
2. I’m praying at least a decade of the rosary daily (in addition to regular prayers).
There are other things I am trying to work on also. I’m doing more spiritual reading (actually, I’m just continuing the reading I always do, but I’m making an extra point to read things that are spiritually stimulating). I’m reading my Bible more. I’m writing in a Lent journal. I’m making a greater effort to focus on gratitude, patience, and humility.
And another thing I plan to do more frequently (hopefully weekly) during Lent is to go to the adoration chapel. I love going to the chapel and it’s something I don’t make time to do often enough. There is something transformative about the experience of adoration, and since I can’t receive communion, it’s the next best thing.
So, on Tuesday I went to the perpetual adoration chapel as part of my preparation for Lent. I wanted to spend some time in prayer, get rid of all the yucky thoughts and feelings I had after all the illness we’ve had in our house, and focus on being thankful. Of course, I can do this anywhere, but there is something special about being in the chapel. It’s beautiful and peaceful.
I’ve been to the chapel a few times before. This time, as always, I walked in, past several others sitting in the chairs, up to the kneeler in front. As I did I happened to notice an elderly gentleman sitting in the second row back from the front of the chapel as I passed. I didn’t look at him directly or speak to him (that seems to be taboo), but I noticed him.
As I got down on the kneeler, I began to think of everything that has happened over the past year, good things and not so good, and my eyes began to tear up a bit. Then I thought about it some more, and I felt a few tears roll down my cheeks. Then I let loose with all my thoughts and prayers about ev.ry.thing. I prayed for patience. I prayed to be a better mom and wife. I prayed for humility. And before I knew it, I had huge tears dropping from my face onto the velvet top of the kneeler, and my nose was beginning to run. I had a passing thought of “darn, I don’t think I have a tissue” (I had left my purse in the car), but then I returned my focus to my praying and did my best to sniff quietly until I was finished.
When I was done with my prayer, I sat back into a chair in the front row of the chapel. By that point I had quite a lot of snot running from my nose, and I looked around for the box of tissues I remembered seeing the last time I was in the chapel. It wasn’t there.
I was trying really hard to just sit and be peaceful and not sniffle too loudly, but the snot was starting to run into my mouth, and I was getting kind of frantic. I searched in my coat pockets just in case there was a forgotten tissue in there, though I knew there wasn’t. I bowed my head so my hair would act a a curtain to cover my face, and I tried to just be and ignore the snot. But then to my horror a long string of snot began to extend from my nose down toward my hands in my lap. I quickly ran through my options. I could wipe the snot with my hand. I could use my coat. I didn’t want to get up and look around for the box of tissues, because I didn’t want to disturb anyone else or, uh, drip on them. I wasn’t ready to leave, and I didn’t want anyone to see my snotty face if I got up and walked out, so I didn’t want to do that (it wasn’t until much later that it occurred to me that I could have gone out, found a restroom, composed myself and then returned, duh). I glanced at the monstrance and thought, “Help?”
Then. Oh then. A box of tissues dropped onto the seat beside me. That elderly man I had passed on the way in, who happened to be sitting right behind me, noticed my distress (how could he not at that point?) and came to my rescue with the tissues.
And you know what? That simple act of kindness made me start bawling again. I grabbed four tissues from that box, wiped my snot, grabbed a few more, blew my nose, and then held up my hand to him and mouthed “thank you” with my head still bowed/ducked forward. Though he couldn’t see my face, that lovely man whispered “you’re welcome” as I sat there and sobbed.
I managed to compose myself fairly quickly, and he left shortly thereafter.
After my nose emergency was resolved, I was able to sit and just take in the peacefulness of the chapel. I had prayed. I had cried. I had blown my nose. I was then able to just be.
I left the chapel feeling different. Lighter. I felt humbled and so grateful for so much. And I smiled to myself as I walked to my car and thought about the man who had helped me. It was such a small thing for him to do, but it really moved me. Through his gesture of kindness, that man was a reminder to me that God is in everything and everyone, if only we are open to Him.