Twas the night before Ash Wednesday
And all through the rooms
Every cushion was overturned
Every piece of old candy consumed
The children were negotiating their Lenten promises in bed
Trying to find loopholes in saintly feast days ahead
With wine and Facebook and chocolate on tap
I was trying to reconcile myself to the long Lenten slap
When all through the house there arose such a clatter
I ignored all their noise for I cared not for their chatter.
And up to the window, I did indeed look about
Annoyed with 40 days to kvetch and to pout.
The moon on the breast on the new-fallen snow
Gave the luster of loathing to my crestfallen low.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a cross in a shadow and the grace to persevere
With little old prayer beads, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment this flesh must be licked.
More rapid than eagles, His angels they came,
And He whispered, I answered, He called me by name;
“Now, Sons! Now, Daughters! Now, Children! Now, come!
On command: “Love one another as I have loved every one.
From the mountain of beatitude to the hill of the cross,
If you value your life, don’t be afraid of the loss.
As snowflakes that before a Nor’Easter do fly,
Ice crystals that melt and spring is soon nigh.
So up to the altars your sacrifices anew,
and with heart full of prayers, you have better things to pursue.”
And then, in a twinkling, I heard in my heart
The cloud of great witnesses cheering my part
The race we are running, that Lent helps us to win
That heavenly banquet once clouded by sin.
He was dressed all in white, from His head to His foot,
And my clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of sins He had born on His back,
And He looked like a thief, just come from the rack.
His eyes, how they wept! His hands bore the holes.
His back had the scars, His heart knew every last soul.
His side was the fount of love and mercy itself
And immediately I knew the guilt of myself.
He spoke no more words, but went straight to His work,
And paid all my debt, not a sin did He shirk.
And giving a nod, up to the Father He rose
Sending another to come and grace overflows.
So as we begin this sojourn, as they days grow long,
We pray. We fast. And to the needy give alms.
We look to the cross and we fight that good fight.
No Easter is had but with a Good Friday’s long night
Happy Lent to all and keep the Cross in thy sight!
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