And so we begin the trudge through Lent.
When we hit Mardi Gras, 2009 and rolled into Lent, Erin had just scored her first ever perfect attendance for a six weeks grading period and was honing her Wii skills, whomping everyone at bowling, tennis, and cow racing. By Maundy Thursday, she had run out of miracles.
Last year, I struggled during Lent, wondering why I had to give up so much (I'm thinking a daughter is all in compared with chocolate, Diet Dr. Pepper, or Facebook). I tried to appreciate the springing of spring and the nuances of all the different shades of green that popped out all around me. I limped through.
This year to kick off Lent, Walter had to work through dinner and Ash Wednesday worship. He missed seeing Nico, Toni, Matt, and Meagan singing the first anthem. I was there, but missed out just as surely. Where was Erin? Not, as she should be, standing in the middle of the small choir turning a quartet into a fivesome.
I have to say that it was not that much of a comfort to hear "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" during the imposition of the ashes.
The closing hymn was "Walk that Lonesome Valley" which took me straight to the days when we sang along to that on our Kingston Trio CD, and I would often replay that one, just to avoid some of the other tunes (all sung with impeccable harmony; almost all featuring drinking, gambling, infidelity, or lawlessness). I smiled to keep from crying, by reminding myself that the Kingston Trio, George Jones, and Joan Baez all rocked that hymn better than our congregation does.
In the end, I left uplifted, grasping the three key words of the homily:
offense -- punishment
OFFENSE -- FORGIVENESS -- RESTORATION
This is what we need and this is what we get.