Happy Ash Wednesday! Enjoy my favorite once-in-a-good-year thematic hymn--I was so glad we sang it this morning at the school mass where Monsignor's "Stop, Look, and Listen" take on Lent will stay with me throughout the season.
I was grateful I woke up with energy to let Computer sleep in and take my first turn dropping Katie off at the dreaded 8 am community college class Mondays and Wednesdays. So I shoveled the light snow in the beautiful darkness and got in a quick swim before we checked in with Lizzie Bennet on the drive. We actually got to campus fifteen minutes late--an immediate fail on one of my Lenten practices, aiming to be everywhere ten minutes early as a counter to my longterm struggle with habitual lateness which hampers my contemplation-in-action as well as disrespecting others and now setting a bad example for my kids. The wise Jesuit to whom I first confessed it in college suggested five, but after briefly trying that with no luck for a Lent or two I decided to ramp it up for more hope of success.
It did a produce a spiritually fruitful, if embarrassing, state of mind and heart for receiving ashes, reminding me of my first grad school pastor and spiritual director Fr. D's memorable talk on "How to survive the Mid-Lent Crisis"--basically saying by that time failure had probably occurred and that it was probably a good thing if embraced humbly! So the experience, plus having to apologize to a gracious Katie for rash-judgment snapping when I thought she was judging me about the lateness and she was just giving a new drop off location, probably contributed to better success with another Lenten discipline inspired by Jen: addressing a long term very rare obedience to Jesus' tough but freeing invitation in the Sermon on the Mount to pray for enemies. Jen (or the person who chose it for her in the gutsy practice which has her fasting with the Copts this year) also suggested five people but the Spirit added one more yesterday and I could really picture them sitting on either side of me during the liturgy--men on one side and women on the other.
It felt really cool and was a big improvement on the slug of unhealed stuff that popped up to add the last, most challenging person--a super entitled young cis man swimming in ecclesial opportunities denied better qualified women. He claims to be a feminist and his (female!) gender studies professors have much to answer for because, like other men I have experienced who aggressively claim membership in women's movement of thought and action in response to male oppression, he does little to nothing to concretely empower women--just spouts theory gained in reading works written in our blood, sweat and tears to assure himself that he's one of the good men...and attack other men, and non-feminist women, and most galling of all, to police and deny the feminism of women he disagrees with. He made nasty remarks about a Feminists for Life talk some gutsy young women on his campus gave: "Pregnant by the Man You Love--or A Rapist"--and was shocked and totally non-responsive when I lovingly and honestly confronted him on the sexism and arrogance. He had no idea that I was the founding president of the campus chapter at my grad school and that I still respect the group, though like the women I worked with for a time at All Our Lives I can no longer join and donate due to their failure to support family planning freedom which is women's right in a free society and reduces abortion.
It's especially ironic, as well as maddening, when prochoice men act like this given the most brilliant insight of that movement: that the most important opinions on pregnancy and birth belong to the gender with lived body-and-spirit experience of their risk or reality, so the gender that lacks these should humbly listen and learn! I totally get the temptation, though, given my own struggles with similar cycles of Screwtapesque self-deception as I attempt to face my own white privilege and racism. So often I fall into the "but I'm one of the good white people" trap rather than focusing on my sisters' and brothers' courage and wisdom in the face of the oppression I am complicit in. So I share this anonymously not to condemn him but to heal myself, and definitely pray for my own conversion along with his--and if your charity moves, would welcome yours for us both.
Later on I got some great fellowship reading done while waiting for my checkup with an awesome new doctor I will really miss when we move--Katie's and my policy of "women always, black whenever possible" paid off big time. It was the first time I have experienced the initial appointment with clothes on plan and she built on that respect by knocking and waiting to enter and using my title and not just her own at introduction time. The cherry on top was her agreement to write me a scrip for the shingles vaccination--it's usually reserved for sixty and up and I have had no luck asking for exceptions before despite my mother's early ordeal with them in her own low fifties when she was helping us move with two year old Nick to my first full time teaching gig.
I was able to find the Lent wreath and almost all the candles--an improvement over the beginning of Advent--and made roasted asparagus to accompany my grilled cheddar on sourdough and meat-bearing leftovers for the Protestant partner and interchurch/agnostic daughter. So my mortification didn't mortify anyone else--and the tasty sandwich hardly counts as such anyway! I am praying that the very light and healthy eating today can be a spark of ongoing transformation and fine tuning my relationship with food, especially exploring mild to moderate hunger with curiosity instead of panic. I'm really feeling the truth of the Eucharistic prayer that calls Lent "this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed"--and hope that you are too!