It is hard to go to mass on Ash Wednesday now, because I become a blubbering mess at some point, and have to pull it back together before Anna starts asking in an outside voice, "Why are you crying?" But I need the ashes. They remind me of him, just as they remind me of the reality we spend most of our lives ignoring. We will die. Our bodies decay daily. The roses my husband bought me last week, dry and droop within seven days. I have a tooth needing a root canal. Decay is ever present, but we have an amazing capacity to busy ourselves so much, we can ignore it.
I know we live beyond death, and I have great hope. But the day itself reminds me. It reminds me of what I haven't done, what I'm not doing, and of all the ways in which, no matter what I'm doing, I haven't done what the goal of this life is, to love unconditionally, and to pour myself out. Surrender is the response we're asked for, the revelation to the world, I have faith.
The issue isn't to surrender once, but to surrender constantly. The real question is, How?
How do we drop the nets today and every day from now on? The mission is to be catchers of souls.
How? We go out, and speak truth joyfully. "Beauty will save the world," Dostoevsky says, Nothing is more beautiful than a joyful spirit, nothing draws people toward something like laughter and beauty. We want to know who is laughing and why, to see the person enjoying life as we in that moment when we seek out the person laughing, are not yet. We hope, by coming into contact with the person laughing, we will become like them, lighter and more full of the zest and joy of life, more alive.
It's why this humor blog persists. Humor as a formula is pain plus time equals something healing. So get your ashes, make your resolution for the next 40 days, and tomorrow, I'll come here to write humor and chew the fat intellectually (since I gave up actual fat for Lent). I'll regale you with all the insights that come from not being able to sate my appetite for sweets and cooking with a Paula Deen type hand with respect to butter, and a not so Frugal Gourmet with respect to Olive Oil. I miss them both already. Hot cocoa without whipped cream somehow tastes like something less than hot chocolate.