Today is Ash Wednesday, and I have the black smudge in the shape of the cross on my forehead to prove it. I went to the Children's Mass at Rojo's school today, and slipped in the back, sat by myself, even though I knew 90% of the people sitting in the large, sunny church.
This, for me, is a time of quiet, this 40-day period marked with ashes to commence it, and Easter as the culmination. I could use a 40-day quiet period, go ahead and ask any of the people that have to live with me, they'll tell you, I'm wound tighter than a tick and as much as Flicka is a calming presence, I need more. I need forced quiet. I need external boundaries set on me that insist I take it down a notch or ten, and enter into a reflective period.
The church was packed and there were four stations to receive ashes, and later to receive communion. Although I am baptized and confirmed in a church, I am not in this church, and thus, I do not receive the blood and body of Christ, I receive a blessing. I have a "thing" about the blessing, unless I am seated in the section that is going to end up going in the priest's line, I just skip the whole thing. I don't want some regular person blessing me. Besides, the priest is one that really gets it, and when I do go through his line, he stops what he's doing, lays his big warm hand over my whole entire head and says my name. Then he delivers a fresh and personal blessing each and every time, and I swear to God, I can feel the blessing pulse from my head throughout my body as this holy man says the special words he's chosen just for me.
Today, however, after choosing my place of isolation in the back, I was not going to make it into the priest's line. When I looked up to see just who was doing the communion for my region, just out of curiosity more than anything else, it was Friend #2. I thought, why not?
I was the last person in the whole church to go through any of the lines, everyone was either on their way back to their pew or down on their knees waiting to wrap it up. Friend #2 might have very well wanted to give me the standard blessing in the name of time, but Friend #2 is not that kind of person, she is Holy with a capital H and she laid her hands on me and said, "May the blessing of the Lord be upon you." Then she reached over, grabbed my whole neck towards her and into an embrace and said, "ALWAYS."
One word made all the difference.
"Regular" people are capable of bestowing pretty awesome blessings.
May the peace of the Lord be upon you.