Ashes, AshesPosted: February 7, 2008
Went to a nearby Episcopal church for Ash Wednesday services yesterday. I’m really not a very good parishioner — I get distracted by too many things. Especially during the “reverent silence” before the start of the liturgy. Yesterday’s highlights included an older couple sitting behind me arguing about whether the husband’s hearing aid was turned up too high (it was whistling at various intervals). Then the priest inadvertently turned on her wireless microphone five minutes before the service was to begin. That meant listening to her conversation with the acolyte as they discussed where he would sit.
When the service began, the priest used the wrong entrance rite for Ash Wednesday. Perhaps a minor detail in the grand scheme of Lent but annoying to me. Fortunately, a thoughtful and nicely presented homily helped me get over the minor irritations and brought my focus back to the invitation to a holy Lent.
The rest of the liturgy was smooth except for a bizarre incident coming back from communion. The 80-year-old man sitting behind me paused before getting back into his pew. I could tell something wasn’t quite right and asked if he was okay. Suddenly he crumpled to the floor — I helped break his fall. He was conscious but clearly struggling. Someone called 911, a nurse who happened to be in the congregation took control, and the paramedics burst in a moment later. So keep a gentleman named Fred in your prayers; to my layman’s eye it looked like a mini stroke.
On the way home I kept thinking, “Ashes, ashes, all fall down.”