Just when I thought it was safe to don lace again......
The veil and I have reached an uneasy truce for most of Lent. Actually, I think mass with the Archbishop celebrating scared it into submission, at least for a while. However, time fades all memories, and this last week, the veil wars started again.
I made a business trip to the cold North this week, packing my three little circles of lace (black, beige, white) into my suitcase, along with a small supply of bobby pins and a corsage pin. I’ve gotten accustomed to the small ritual of tacking the circlet to my hair, and notice it now mostly for the thoughtful pause it creates in my daily life. This week, I would notice it for the havoc it wreaked. And for the record, odd things like this do not, as a rule, happen to me. Except, apparently, now. That little scrap of lace must be bothering someone.
Tuesday morning, I got ready to leave for morning mass, knowing I would be leaving immediately after for a two hour drive to a distant office. I tucked my suitcase in the back of my car (a silver cartoon-jobber called a Cube), picked up my badge holder, keys, phone and black veil, which I placed on the car seat next to me.
When I arrived at the church, no veil. I searched the car in increasing frustration, to no success. It’s not a big car, and did I mention the car seat was a lovely, light beige? No veil. No veil anywhere.
I sighed and reassured myself that God would understand this lapse, which was surely not intentional. That reassurance lasted only the briefest minute. I had an alternative and reached into my suitcase to retrieve the black and silver checked scarf that I customarily wear with my wardrobe of black sweaters. I draped it over my head and entered the church looking very much like the dour mother of a jihadist or one of those women from a Stalinist-era propaganda poster. Some women look fetching in a head scarf. I just look scary.
Keeping it in place even at that took intermittent battle, but I managed to do so and not be distracted from the mass. After the dismissal, I let it slide finally off my head, knotted it around my neck and returned to my car to find-on the seat---a black veil. I’m not sure, but I may have heard Rod Serling’s voice in the distance....
The next day, I got ready for morning mass again, packing my suitcase for a return trip. Suitcase packed, phone badge case, white veil, all tidily set aside. I took the bag to the car and returned for the loose items--no veil. I ransacked the room (slightly larger than the car, but not much) again to no success. I grabbed the beige circlet, and the corsage pin from my bag, and headed to church where I was relieved that I had only a minor skirmish with the flying lace, and that at the end of mass.
Leaving the chapel, I held my coat in my hand as I tacked the veil together with the pin while talking to the priest on the way out. I dropped the veil and saw it flutter down....but it never hit the ground. I stepped about, looking for it, but it was nowhere to be found. The priest inquired politely what I was doing (my search resembled a badly-executed jitterbug) and I told him. He looked too, as I checked the pockets of the jacket in the off chance it had ended up there. No luck.
Sighing, I put the jacket on, and as I left, the priest called out to me to wait. There, stuck to the back and impaled by the pin, was the veil.
By the time I got ready to go to mass the next morning, it had disappeared again. I was down to one little black veil, impervious to pins of any sort (I didn’t know they can make black lace out of steel threads but they do). I persevered, and headed home. Score: Veil 3, BHG Zip
And it hit me, as I relaxed in the plane, watching the great expanse of endless white clouds from my window, that I had learned a very different lesson this Lent than I thought I would from this discipline. I went into this thinking that I would focus myself more on the fact of the mass, its sanctity and its grandeur. And that I did.
But the real lesson was the interior dialog I had that first day, when I dug out a scarf at the last minute rather than go into mass bare headed. Yes, God will understand, but I don’t want to disappoint my Father. I promised Him I would do this, and I’m not going to let something like this get in the way when there is another way. It’s my gift to Him and I am not going to let anything get in the way of that gift, not if I can help it.
Not letting things get in the way, persevering in the face of adversity. Not a bad lesson at this place and time in my life and in the life of the Church. Realizing that there is almost always another way, another path, to the same wonderful end. That is God’s gift to me this Lent