After reading Sister Mary Martha's post about honoring the hours between 12-3 on Good Friday, which I had never thought to do, I decided that I would spend that time with no computer, no television, no radio - no stimulation. I thought I would just spend that time in silence as I did whatever I was going to do so that I could contemplate our Lord's suffering while he hung on the cross dying. Incidentally, I discovered that I am a "stimulation" junkie. Usually, I have the television or radio on while I'm doing stuff around the house. If I'm not doing stuff around the house I'm usually on the computer. So giving up all 3 was a big change for me. I was jittery and nervous and didn't know what to do with myself! I need a 12 step program!
Anyway, I started straightening up the house and then remembered that I had a couple of soap making kits that I had desperately wanted for Christmas but had never gotten out. I began making the soaps and was having the best time. The girls were down, it was quiet, and I realized that instead of just sitting in front of the computer the whole time the girls are napping, I should spend my free time a little more productively once in a while!
But then I started to feel guilty that I was having such a good time. I was supposed to be thinking of Christ and his suffering - not enjoying myself. As I got further into it, I realized that you can make some analogies between soap making and Lent! Yes, soap making and Lent. Let me explain:
The first thing you do is melt down cubes of raw soap that have no scent (well, not a nice one anyway) or color. Once it is liquid, you add the pretty scents, colors and even decorative things like flowers if you'd like. Then you pour the liquid into a mold and let it sit until it cool and hardens. When you're done, you have a beautiful soap that smells so good. But, if you're like me and don't have all of the right equipment to use, the soap can have some imperfections such as bubbles, or not being an equal amount and therefore a little lopsided. Or, better yet, a little piece of the flower can be sticking out of the soap - ha, ha - hey, it was my first attempt at this! This is sort of what we go through at Lent. For 40 days we sacrifice, fast, abstain from meat on Fridays, go to confession, perform works of charity, and genuflect and kneel a lot (stations and Good Friday service have my out of shape body sore - yikes!). We're like the raw soap that is melted and beaten down. But through the process, we are left open and ready for God to decorate our hearts and make us beautiful through His Son's glorious rising on Easter. But, just like the soap I made there will still be imperfections and flaws. The only difference is the soap maker! The flaws in the soap I made were due to my inexperience and humanity while the flaws in us are also due to our imperfections, not our soap maker who is perfect! At this point I'm thinking - great analogy - I'll have something for the blog. But I was still not thinking about Christ's suffering like I was supposed to.
As I started to really get into mixing the colors and the scents I started thinking about the many different types of soap I could come up with if I had time to keep working on it. This made me think about how much fun God must have making humans! He gets to choose from countless different colors, heights, and statures. What a blast He must have! No wonder He loves us so much! But I still wasn't suffering or thinking about suffering...I was really having too much fun. The creative juices were flowing!
I was taking some newly melted soap out of the microwave when my hand moved in a funny way and the very hot liquid soap spilled everywhere - all over the microwave, the cabinets, the floor and my clothes! A bunch of it spilled on my pants up on my thigh and it was hot! It was burning my thigh but I was still trying to right the bowl so as not to spill more so my options were to hold my pants off my leg and not get burned but drop the bowl or get burned and hold the bowl. I kind of did a combination of both while thinking, "Well at least now I'm suffering with Jesus". I looked at the clock on the microwave and it was 3:00!!! The time of our precious Lord's death. So I ran back to my room to change and I was really overcome with sadness and grief. I dropped to my knees and started praising Jesus and thanking Him for suffering for my sake. Then I remembered that I had a copy of the most wonderful stations of the cross. I got my crucifix and placed it in front of me and proceeded to pray the Stations of the Cross. It was a truly wonderful way to spend the hour of our Lord's death. Somehow the girls stayed asleep and quiet the whole time even though they were overdue to wake up. It was very special and really got me in the mood to venerate the Cross at the evening Good Friday service.
In a funny way, I think if I had not been doing the soap making at that time, I may have gotten busy doing something else and missed having such a holy experience. We can find God in such every day experiences if we're just looking and open to His presence.
I have so many more thoughts on my Holy Week, or really Triduum, experiences but it has taken me since Friday to get finished with this post due to the craziness that is my life! I am finishing this on Easter Sunday morning as we have already been up and to Mass and now are all having a great time just relaxing at home - not worrying about what a mess it is! I'm hoping to find some time to write more because I am on such a high after the beautiful and sacred Easter Vigil last night. I sat there last night thinking that this must be very similar to what Heaven is like...with a few notable exceptions that I'll also mention for humor's sake!
Happy & Blessed Easter!