It's a good look for me, no?
Okay, first things first: Boob Day was a blazing success. No cancer!! Whoo hoo!! Thank you, my darlings, for your good thoughts and for gettin' your pray on for me. It's always nerve-wracking when February rolls around. But this time, we're in the clear. My new oncologist is a lovely woman (who, I learned, thinks the Ross-a-tron and I are pretty hilarious and entertaining, and, of course, I agree, because we are). And it was so nice to see the regular crew again: Carmen, Marlene, and Kristen. The girls at the Hillman Cancer Center are really good to me. Bless 'em!
Next up: Ash Wednesday. I just got home from Mass, and let me tell you: totally beautiful. First of all, did you see the cross of ashes I'm rocking in the above photo? I know, right?! How kick-ass is that? (Ooooh, I should watch my language...) The Bishop had Mass, and I made sure to get in his line for the distribution of ashes. Let me tell you, that dude does not mess around. Looks like he took a Sharpie to my head! I love it! Everyone else's ashes looked like smudgy grey-ish blobs on their foreheads. Waah waaaaah. I wish it wasn't practically bedtime, because I really do wanna rock it for longer than another couple of hours.
So yeah. Lent starts today. A lot of people are all "Aw, crap. I gotta give up something? That sucks." I used to feel that way. In fact, some seasons of Lent, I just didn't participate. "Whatevs," I'd say. But this year is different. My heart feels a lot more full and a lot more aware of what I think Lent really means. I'm giving up Starbucks and Panera treats. This is really hard for me. It will be a true sacrifice. Those treats are such a part of my daily life. It's like they're ingrained in my daily schedule: arrive at parking garage at work, walk to Starbucks on campus, get treats (I just show up at the counter, and Eric, Marva, Charita, and Will just know immediately what I want and start to make it for me), and head towards my office. It's comforting to me. It makes me feel like work isn't really work. And, so, I'm giving that up. And I think I might do something else, too. Some sort of service. I'm not sure yet, but I'll try to make a decision in the next few days.
The Bishop's homily tonight was great. He started out by saying, "You know, this is the perfect season to really look into our hearts and ask ourselves what parts of ourselves got less like God over time. We could take those and put them on the altar and offer them up. I don't know about you, but when I look at myself in the mirror in the morning, I mean, really look at myself, I see parts of myself that I'm really embarrassed about. They're not parts that are how God made me to be. And I want to fix them. Maybe you have parts like that. But I can only speak for me, because I know I do."
This dude is one of my favorites. Bishops can become Cardinals, who can then become the Pope. So, yeah. He's pretty high up there. And I believe he's a holy man. But he's also so human! And he recognizes that, which is one of the things I love about him so much. (You'd love him, too. He's, like, totally my other boyfriend. Don't worry. The Ross-a-tron knows.)
Anyway, it was such a beautiful moment to look around the church--which, by the way, was filled to the brim with college students (my parish is right in the middle of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University)--and know that all of us are human and have crap about us that's, well, crappy. Even the friggin' Bishop. There was no "I'm the Bishop and I'm better than you." It was like he was our friend, confessing that he's got some crap he's gotta sort out, just like the rest of us. And Lent is such a great time to put that crap on the table and say to the Big G, "Alright. I've had it. I'm tired of carrying around this crap that makes me less than what You want me to be. So, here. I'm handing it over. It's too heavy, and it sucks. What? You'll take it? Really? Of course You will, because You're totally in love with me. That's awesome."
And that's what Lent is for me. I'm going to spend the next 40 days (46 if you count the Sundays) really trying to be more of the person God wants and made me to be. I'm handin' over the crap. And I'm giving up something I really, really love. Sure, it'll be hard, but I think of it like this:
Jesus nailed to a cross
no treats for me for a month or so
Then I realize that it's such a tiny gift I can give, in comparison. And then I know I can do it. And it makes me happy to know that I can give that.
I apologize in advance if I get a little cranky. I *will* miss my tall, decaf caramel mocha, extra hot.
Happy Lent, friends. Not Unhappy Lent.
with love from Pittsburgh,