This has been a difficult Lenten season which followed a horrible year of lockdowns and mask wearing due to the Wuhan virus. The Lenten season began the week following the once in a century Texas storm when many of us suffered from extremely cold temperatures and no heat or water for about a week. So I really wasn’t ready for Lent. My husband and I were still trying to return the household to normal, repair broken water pipes and try to clean up the downed trees. I had not even spent any time thinking about the Lenten season, about what I would do to repent and get my heart ready for Easter.
Forty days later and it was Good Friday already. Holy Thursday had come and gone. I had hoped to watch the liturgy on that special day when our savior, Jesus Christ, instituted the Eucharist. I even missed that event. I can make an excuse and call it the result of my “age” which is advanced in years, but that excuse is not a worthy one. I really don’t know what happened on Holy Thursday to cause me to miss watching the liturgy. I haven’t attended the Holy Thursday liturgy in person in many years, because of the length of the service, the late hour in which it is celebrated and the liberal use of incense which causes my cough to be worse than normal.
Of course, both my husband and I had abstained from meat as required on Fridays during Lent. That is not really an act of repentance for us, as we normally eat little meat, especially on Fridays. My act of Lenten repentance turned out to be an entirely different one than I would have imagined.
Having been married for more than 50 years now, I am well acquainted with my husband’s habits, many of which could drive me to drink, if I were tempted in that way. My husband loves to start a new project, but once he gets going on it, has a lot of trouble finishing the project. I could regale the reader with story after story of unfinished projects, many of which were started years ago and remain unfinished to this day. And my husband, kind and generous though he is, seldom puts away tools that he is using, making it my job to keep the house in some kind of order which is a daily struggle.
On Good Friday, that most sacred of days, my husband began putting together a fire pit which he had purchased to burn up all the small branches that could not be used in the fireplace. I was working upstairs on necessary paperwork when he began to unpack and assemble the fire pit on the sun porch.
The sun porch had been quite a mess the week before Good Friday. We had sheltered plants and lawn furniture on the porch over the winter. I spent an entire day the week before removing everything that was still on the porch and resettling it outdoors. I vacuumed and washed the marble tile floor, even scrubbing the grout between the tiles on the porch. I brought an area rug to the porch once the floor was dry and placed a glass top table and chairs on the porch. I added a few houseplants and a small table to hold the plants. I found an old oil painting to hang on one of the brick walls. I knew that the sun porch would be a quiet and pleasant place to pray in the early morning. I even put some placemats on the table in case we wanted to share a meal there. The end result was lovely, although it had taken an entire day and all the energy I could muster to make the change in the sun porch.
When I came downstairs after paying some bills, I was horrified to see that my dear husband had set up his “construction project” on the sun porch. Gone was the quiet, clean place to pray and meditate. Strewn on the floor and the glass top table were tools of various kinds and the metal pieces for the fire pit. My husband had even dragged one of the old lawn chairs to the porch to sit on while he worked. I saw the mess that was being made and wanted to cry. All the work which had taken me so long to complete was completely undone. And given my husband’s work habits, I wondered how long this too would last.
I was tempted to say something, even to scream at what I was seeing, to remind him what it cost me physically to clean up the room. Strangely though for me, I kept silent, I suppose in reverence of the day. I had been thinking about the Divine Mercy Novena which began that holy day. I retreated into the house, walked to the piano room and began vacuuming. After cleaning up a bit in that room, I went back upstairs for some time. Later that day, as it was nearly evening, I decided to check on the fire pit work, to see if there was some way that I could “speed” the construction along or clean up the mess that my husband surely had left behind. When I opened the door to the sun porch, I was shocked to see that everything my husband had dragged out and into the room to build his fire pit was gone – it was all out on the patio. Now I really began to cry. I knew without thinking that the scene was God’s doing.
Even though I thought I had not spent the time necessary to prepare for Easter, though I had been too busy on most days to give adequate attention to God, it seems He was still looking after me. So often He seems to be so far away, to be inattentive to our needs, and yet He is always there, even when we don’t notice. My” fire pit miracle” is a blessing from Him, a reminder that we are always close to His Heart.