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The rain is falling so hard outside our windows these days, sounding so loud and close and bringing such a chill to the air that I keep looking over to check if one of those windows are open. But they're not.
The other day in girls Bible study, we were playing a game with cards naming things people like. Each of us were dealt cards and had to choose which ones we thought each person would like. One of the cards that came up said simply "rain." The three girls I was playing with, Vancouver born and bred, were quickly unanimous in saying that no one liked rain. I tried to defend the existence of the card (something I do often, perhaps out of some strange insistence that everything in this universe is here for a purpose). I said that I used to like rain and all three girls swung their heads around to look at me like I had confessed I used to have three heads.
No one in their right minds in Vancouver likes rain. You live with the rain because there are other things you like about Vancouver (like those 60 days of summer sunshine so pure and gentle it makes the other 300 days bearable), but the idea of opening a window to let in the first cool autumn wind or first warm spring breeze and the mingled smell of water and sky and earth, while cuddled under a blanket with a book and sipping a mug of hot tea: impossible.
Lent is not quite going like I planned this year. I didn't plan a lot, but I planned to take my family to get ashes, I planned to write Thank You notes, I planned to pray the rosary from time to time and then I remembered that I also planned ten thousand other daily things that SIMPLY MUST BE DONE!! You know, the usual.
I got my family to the 5pm Ash Wednesday service despite all odds, but the little one was not having it. So Clint took her out to the church gym to run around, which is what toddlers need to do at 5pm, and I was the only one who got ashes. I felt dumb and bull headed to be so focused on how I needed to get ashes or my soul might die, that I sacrificed the rest of the family.
(By the way I was wrong about what the priest would say, sort of, he said, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ." Shoulda checked my liturgies, it's not like he was just making this stuff up.)
I haven't written a Thank You note yet. But I did spend a couple hours sorting cards to identify who did still need to be thanked. Then about 45 minutes tearing the house apart looking for the stack of written thank yous that I never sent, pondering the absurdity that I've moved with them three times and still never sent them, and still never finding them.
I can't find my rosary at the moment. And I can't seem to find a moment to find my rosary.
Confession is a tricky thing. Just when I think I've got it down, been there done that, just when I start to say the words without meaning them, I need it all over again.
When I lived in New York, I would leave early on Sunday mornings to make sure that I wasn't late to church, because the first part of the service was the prayer of confession, and I didn't want to miss it. I looked forward all week to that prayer.
Now, six years later, I'm at a stage in life where worship is often a tired straining to focus on the words in front of me while wrestling with and shushing Lucy for the moments before she goes to the nursery and I go up to lead Junior Youth. The words of the confession that I need become words over-familiar and yet so foreign they are almost another language, a hoop to get through, an Ash Wednesday service breathed and smudged quickly between immunizations and dinner and Skype calls with my family.
These prayers are drops of water on my soul, an incessant rain in a Vancouver winter. They mark my body, they erode me, they shape me, they chill me to the center, but when I kneel to pray them, really pray them, they also make even the winter green with life.
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