I am such a wretch. I blame it on spiritual flabbiness, but whatever the cause it seems I can't get away from being crabby on Ash Wednesday. I thought I would do better this year because I am not pregnant or even nursing and, besides, I really am excited about this Lent. But no.
I was fine in the morning and even made it through lunch and the early part of the afternoon in good spirits. But then the afternoon hours just seemed to c...r....rrr...eee...e...eeee....p by. I was cold and I was hungry and the kids were bickering about nothing and everything and there was nothing to look forward to but more of the same. I know, I know, have you ever heard of such suffering in all your life? What a spoiled child I am.
Crab, crab, crab. Snap, snap, snap, is just about all anyone heard from me until I had time to reflect on the day's Gospel.
"When you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad."
I know the Gospel, here, is referring to the way the Pharisees would paint their faces ostentatiously to show everyone that they were fasting, but it seems to apply to my crabbiness as well.
You know, I don't even think it is the hardship of Ash Wednesday that gets to me. It seems I've suffered much, much harder things without becoming crabby. I think it is the obedience part. It is the thought that I can't just drop it at any moment and say, "Oh well, that was a nice idea, but it's not working so let's go out for pizza! Everyone to the van!" I think penance undertaken out of obedience is so much harder than penances freely chosen. It is also more meritorious and, for that reason, a great opportunity for growth.
I am grateful for the opportunity, and thankful that every day is new.