Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pierce's first Ashes

I was hoping to share the experience of Pierce's first Ash Wednesday with J, but since he had to work Pierce and I loaded up in the car and went to church!  Just Pierce and myself.  First time the two of us had been to church alone.  If he decided to sing, fuss, or scream it was me...alone.  Can you tell I was concerned?  I hate the people that bring noisy kids into church, it disrupts service and concentration, so of course I didn't want to be that parent.  I positioned myself so I could quickly get out of either door, one that lead to a sitting room, and one that goes directly outside if we needed to make a great escape!

Pierce was an absolute angel through service.  Even through the what-seemed-like-forever periods of silence, you know the silence where you could hear a pin drop.  He just sat in my arms and watched everyone, looked around at everything.  Our church is historic, has stained glass, amazing architectural detail, and Pierce was soaking it all in!  Hey, whatever kept him quiet.

 It was time for us to go get our ashes (the service is known as the Imposition of the Ashes), and he just clung to me like a spider monkey, pass in his mouth (Pass aka pacifier).  We knelt at the alter rail and without hesitation our priest marked Pierce with the cross (in ashes of course), then moved on to me.  I've never seen a baby with ashes on his forehead, but it was so very important to me for Pierce to receive his ashes, at not-yet 6 months old.  No, he has no clue what happened, doesn't even know he received ashes.  Yes, it was for me in the grand scheme of things, but I just want to start now.  Immerse him.  Set the foundation now.
My Lenten promise to Pierce (and Christ) was to take these 40 days and nights and really start working on my Christian foundation.  I'm ashamed to say, I've never read the Bible.  I've read parts of it.  I'm ashamed to say, I can't name a quarter of the books of the Bible.  I don't plan on grilling myself and learning the books, reading the entire Bible cover to cover in these 40 days of Lent.  That's not what Lent is to me.  I want to start a habit, and make it a lifestyle.

After the imposition of ashes, we progressed into Holy Eucharist (communion), Pierce fell asleep in my arms and snoozed right on through me getting up and taking communion, the priest blessing him, and me going back to our pew.  He woke up, pleasant, happy, smiling.  All of my anxiety over taking him to church alone was gone.  I just knew, some how, he knew he had to be a good little boy and be quiet.  I had been telling him, but goodness I'm not silly enough to think he understands that!

Once service was over, we walked out of the sanctuary and spoke to one priest.  Pierce spit out Pass and just smiled his two-tooth smile, proud of himself for being such a good baby.  He smiled even more for the associate priest who organized his baptism.  That boy knows how to make people's day bright, the priest even said, "Those big smiles just make your day!"

I know it's crazy talk, but I really think somehow Pierce knew that he needed to be good.  To soak in his environment.  That there was something special about this place.
And my angel baby did just that, he was perfect

I really wanted to get a picture of Pierce with his first ashes, but I didn't want to be a goon sitting in church, this time of penitence, snapping pictures of my kid with ashes on his forehead.  So, sadly most of his ashes were wiped away when I put his hoodie back on him after service.  But, if you look closely, what looks like a bruise on his forehead is what was left of his ashes:

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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