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The rough Latin translation of "pulvis ad pulverem," is dust to dust. For those of us Christians who observe Ash Wednesday, this is the day. Full disclosure, I am not what one would call, even while observing the most charitable of definitions a...devout Catholic. My dear friend and mentor, Bill, gave me some great advice a few years ago when he said, "It's best to have a sense of humor as a Catholic." (Or words to that effect.) Bill is one of the finest people I know and his words (at least as I interpreted them) meant that while there are things about our religion that may give us pause, smile at them and celebrate the basis of the faith.
The basis of the faith. As I mentioned two posts back, I had an ugly visit in my professional life from the Ghost of Grammar Past. I learned last week (among other things) that "bases" meant more that one thing. If you are Christian, then the basis, the singleness, of our faith is the belief in Jesus Christ. This post is not meant to get into a deep philosophical and/or spiritual debate. If I'm qualified to discuss dogma then you might as well throw me the keys to Jeff Gordon's car and let me race on Sunday (until I crash...) Alas, I digress.
So it's Ash Wednesday and I did make it to Mass this morning...at 7:00 a.m. I do not live exactly next door to my church, Our Lady of Victory so this was not exactly an...ideal time to head to church. Still, I did. Primarily because my Dad advised that a Mass was being said for my Mom. She passed away in 2010 and when a Mass is said for her, I try to go. The fact it was Ash Wednesday was either a convenient or annoying coincidence. I'll elect to bid on the first showcase.
As I was driving to church, I started laughing to myself, recalling in either 2007 or 2008 when we lived in Arizona. My Mom came down to visit and sure enough, it was during the week of Ash Wednesday. Of course, my Mom was far too much of a class act to shame me into taking her to Ash Wednesday Mass but we went anyways. I recall (with more than a bit of embarrassment) being annoyed at my reverse lottery luck of having my Mom visit at this precise time. Oh well, I said to myself. There are worse fates to suffer. I had no idea that a few years later she would be gone.
So this morning, I went to Mass, and did so willingly. Again, I am no poster child for the ideal Catholic. At the same time, this morning offered me that most wonderful of gifts- the chance to spend a bit of time with my Dad. And that, my friends, is a thing to celebrate.
It is true we, like all living things, will return to the earth. We are destined to decompose. Morbid, I guess. Then again, if you believe that our souls move forth at our passing, then leaving our bodies here is not so bad. I could be wrong, but I elect to believe that when we leave this earth, our ashes are not just or bodies, but all the bad stuff, all the stupid experiences we needed to have here on this planet. What we leave behind are our family, our friends, the people we mentored and who mentored us. That makes passing on OK, more than OK.
In the meantime, celebrate the time we have here. And recall that sometimes the things that are the annoyances of the present become our future memories. I know this to be true as I was thinking about Mom this morning, wishing she was here, but grateful we were together for that one Ash Wednesday Mass a few years ago. You know, the one I didn't want to go to...back then.
Be well my friends,