Joe and I went to breakfast on Sunday morning at Big Al's, followed by a peek into the window of the thrift shop, which happens to be closed on Sundays and Mondays. My heart started to race as I saw it, hanging on a rack, right in the front of the store where everyone, walking in, would also spot it. The big, really red straw handbag that I knew, at first sight, I had to have. The two-day wait might just kill me, but I was going to get there at the moment the shop opened on Tuesday, going in for the kill.
We planned to meet at my home at 10:00. All agreed. Bring your own eggs and ideas and I'll supply the rest. But wait.....the shop opens at 9:30 and I needed time......"Dear Friends, please come at 10:30 instead of 10:00. I have to go to the Thrift Shop to buy a red straw purse that I saw in the window on Sunday"....Okay. These are my friends for a reason. They understand me.
If I had to set an alarm clock, something I haven't done since I was thirteen, I would have. But I did not. I was up at my usual crack-of-dawn, using my time to collect and assemble all the things necessary for the coloring event, killing time, waiting for the exact right moment to exit my home, get in the car and drive to the parking lot of the thrift shop so that I would be the first customer to enter. You really would have thought that I was going to the State Lottery Office to collect my millions. Everything was down to a science. I knew exactly how much time to spend on each and every chore and if that phone rang.....I would have to ignore it unless it really was the Lottery Office calling. That, I would not ignore. I checked the clock over and over again. I did not want to arrive too early, looking pathetic as if I really did not have a life, sitting in my car as if I had nothing better to do. So every minute, every action, was calculated and very soon, that purse would be in my hands, and in a few weeks, would appear in many photos. It had "Savannah, here I come!" written all over it.
But I was a few minutes early and I did have to sit in my car and I knew I would be the first customer of the day and I got to thinking. This is Holy Week. I was given the gift of faith at my baptism. My parents furthered my faith and strengthened my bond with that faith by allowing me to live a real life. Church attendance was never forced upon me. We did not read the Bible. My brother and I were never preached to, we made a lot of our own choices based upon what we inherently knew as right or decent. The most important lesson I ever learned from my upbringing, was acceptance. Race, ethnic background, sexual preference, political views. My mother was brilliant as a teacher of humanity and out-of-the-box idealism. I have her to thank for my comfort with all people. All people. Period.
I want the final reward. I could kick myself a hundred times over, every Lenten season. I feel humble and not deserving if I allow myself to hold to a standard that is part and parcel with old-fashioned Catholicism. I don't observe "Holy Days of Obligation", mainly because of the O-word in there. I eat meat on Fridays in Lent because I refuse to believe that God said it was wrong and I know that it was a man-made dictate to help the fishing industry ages ago. I don't give things up for Lent. Were I able to do that, I would not have a problem with my weight, ever. God knows I'm weak. He made me. I recycled my palms after Mass on Sunday of this week. I refuse to take them home and make a toy out of them. I get it about the Passion even though I don't fully understand the mysteries therein. I hate that they make the congregation participate in the reading as if it were a Broadway show. But, I do believe and I do want to attain redemption because I do believe that there is more there than there is here. And I do love the Man who went through all of that, just for me.
So, I had to forgive myself for preparing more for the trip out to the Thrift Shop than I have for other, more significant things. I now own the purse. It is as lovely as I had imagined it would be. Better than it looked through the glass window. I made sure that it would be in my hands and I calculated well. I got my just reward. Perhaps, by understanding all of this, this every-day application of my faith, I will get the real prize when it's all over. I do want it. Lent is not over yet.