Today is Ash Wednesday. A beautiful day in the liturgical church calendar to reflect upon our mortality and the promised resurrection of life lived with Christ. As my faith journey continues, I regularly experience little “deaths” and opportunities for little “resurrections” with the Living Christ among us. May you experience a rich season of Lent to reflect upon what Christ’s life and death mean for you. Next week, I’ll begin a weekly offering of Lent through the monastic practice of seven daily pauses. Today, I offer you a Valentine’s tale. Can you find Christ in the midst?
Once upon a time, there was a sparkly young girl named She. From the moment of her birth, glitter fell from the heavens upon She. When She dreamt, glitter. When She cried, glitter. When She laughed, glitter. Glitter became quite the nuisance for She. As She grew older, she came to despise the the grainy, shiny pieces that stuck in her hair, fell in her food and got caught in the most unusual of places.
Instead of glitter, what She really longed for was love. Each day, She walked aimlessly by rocks, underneath clouds, beside her dog wondering where love could be. Her daydream always featured one special person who loved her completely and gave her everything she wanted. She was determined to find this love. So, one day, She (and her tiresome glitter) set out on a quest to find this one person who would give her the adoration she desperately desired. Her travels took her high and low, stretched over the earth until, She walked the ocean shores and bumped into Fisherman.
Fisherman wined and dined her and She proclaimed, “This is it! I’ve found the one!” Their dating rituals began. She took him to dinner and movies. He took her to his boat and taught her to fish. The glitter didn’t bother him. In fact, he smiled as it fell on her eyelashes and made her gleam. They shared stories and took daytrips on the sea. Valentine’s Day was around the corner. She hoped and hoped he wouldn’t disappoint. He didn’t. On Valentine’s Day, a sweet note of his love and adoration was at her doorstep beside a snuggly teddy bear. Confirmation of his unfailing love for her.
Days trickled by and rolled into months. Soon enough, another Valentine’s Day was upon them. This year, She hoped for chocolates. Once again, he didn’t disappoint. He bought her fancy chocolates and made her dinner all while celebratory glitter floated in the air. She typed up a long post on Facebook about all the wonderful qualities of Fisherman for the world to know.
Eventually, their dating rituals slowed down and comfort set in. She and Fisherman loved each other and knew it. Despite their love, small spats began to set in. Whose family would they celebrate Christmas with? Whose job was it to clean the glitter? And, oh! The stink of Fisherman’s clothes! Regardless, they found plenty of ways to keep their love aflame and soon enough, he was down on bended knee asking for her hand in marriage. She accepted with fervor, savoring the realized dream of finding her Fisherman charming.
Their wedding was nothing short of spectacular. The ceremony sparkled. The food wowed. Drinks flowed. It seemed as if they had it all. But, after the ceremony, married life was a bit tougher than it looked. The small spats turned to large fights. She wanted more attention, better conversation, special gifts. He wanted her to be happy. Because of this, She found he’d do anything for her. Soon enough, Valentine’s Day was only a few weeks away. She thought some small hints may help her new husband give her what she wanted. “Gee, that chocolate you bought me was really nice last year, but I like the fancier ones from the Hallmark store.” A few days went by, She hinted, “Hmmm… they had some really nice diamond earrings at the jewelry shop I passed by earlier today.” On the morning of, “Do you think you could pick up a nice bottle of wine for our dinner tonight?” Glitter continued to fall, but she could no longer see it.
As time wore on, her desire for love was a bit obsessive and She couldn’t understand why what Fisherman provided didn’t completely fill her. Her longings became nothing but a to-do list for the man she loved. He was unable to give genuinely from his heart since he always bowed to her will. He obediently did her bidding, but it was never enough. Her demands grew larger and greater by the year. But, none was as immense as this year when she boldly proclaimed, “Bring me the moon for Valentine’s Day! I want the moon!”
He looked at her with tired eyes. Worn out.
The day of Valentine’s Day came. She opened her eyes expecting french toast, champagne and the moon as the centerpiece of their breakfast table. Instead, when She arose from bed, she found Fisherman’s toothbrush missing and a jumbled closet. She walked downstairs to their table and instead of the moon, she found three things for her. An empty journal. A pedestal mirror. And, a note. The note said, “Gone fishing. See you later.”
She sat speechless. Then, she looked in the mirror. She sat with her reflection for a long while. She noticed the freckle on her forehead and the dimple in her cheek for the first time in ages. As she gazed, her vision blurred and she contemplated the duality of her being. The good and bad. An unlikely thought breezed into her “What if the love I’ve so desperately been looking for has actually been within me all along?” In that instant, her eyes cleared and she caught a glimpse of divine glitter shine in her eye. She wept for the gift. She picked up her pen and began to write a love letter to her whole self.
Ever since that day …
Questions to further engage you with the story:
• In this story, glitter falls from the heavens around She. What do you think the glitter represents?
• Reflect upon a time in your life when you expected others to bring you happiness. How did this turn out?
• Sometimes we take our own steps toward a new way of living, other times it is pressed upon us. In this story, Fisherman makes a change which impacts She. When has someone made a change impacting you to reflect upon your behavior/your choices?
• When Fisherman says “See you later”, does he return? Or is he gone forever?
• Why was it important for She to see both the good and bad in her gazing?
• Is there a gift in your life that has been there all along that took a long while for you to recognize?
• Where do you find Christ in this story?
• Take time to write a love letter to yourself today.
• Finish the sentence “Ever since that day…”