Over the last few years, I have developed an appreciation for all those things that I was told were wrong when I was a child. No, I’m not talking about how I can go to the movies or play cards. One of the biggest disappointments in my early life was my parent’s decision to not allow me to see Sleeping Beauty.
I was eight years old when Disney released Sleeping Beauty. I had never been to the movies since in the views of my parents this was a worldly (sinful) activity. My best friend Barbara was going. I can remember lying in bed hearing my parents discuss the invitation I had from Barbara’s Aunt Eleanor to go with them to see the movie. The decision for the sake of my soul was that I couldn’t go.
I was so disappointed. This also presented a social problem for me. Everyone else had seen it. Every one of my friends at school talked about it. It was a big deal in Brooklyn that year. I had the coloring book for Sleeping Beauty. I thought that might help me navigate these endless conversations about the movie.
The coloring book turned out to be a bad idea. I was coloring one day with some friends, I was coloring the fairies. Girls will make anything a social activity. Remember those three plump fairies? I colored them the wrong color. Everyone laughed at me. I was exposed as the only girl in at PS 94 who wasn’t allowed to see Sleeping Beauty.
I remember having anguish in my soul at times because I would play cards in the basement with another friend. Every time I went to Nancy’s house, her father had his TV tray in front of him playing a game of Solitaire. We would go to the basement with another deck of “demon cards” and play such things as Go Fish, War and occasionally the most worldly of all, GIN. That game even sounded worldly to me.
To make matters worse, I remember being asked if I were playing cards with Nancy. I lied to my mother and said no, I wasn’t. I was a good Christian girl and wouldn’t do such things. At night, I was sure Jesus was going to come and I’d be left behind. Terrible burdens for an 8 year old.
To some extent, these stories are laughable. Just like the stories of not being allowed to do folk dancing in PE class. Or finally getting a blessing from my father to go to the movies. Somehow, movies and cards were both sanctified by the time I was thirteen.
Today I am thinking of something else that was spurned when I was a child. Today is the first day of Lent. As a child I was both glad I didn’t have to have dirt on my forehead, and jealous. It seemed to me at times like this must be like the “mark of the beast” that terrified me. In my child’s mind, having been told that these liturgical Christians were not really believers like we were – after all, they drank and smoked and went to movies and dances – not to mention card playing and Bingo. Now they were marked with this dirt on their forehead.
Some of my teachers, actually most of them, also had ashes. They seemed like nice people even though they wore lipstick and makeup. Nevertheless, there were those ashes.
I’ve gone through lots of changes. I now understand that many of these rituals of my brothers and sisters in Christ have deep and wondrous meanings. Several years ago, I too was marked for the first time with these ashes.
I was going to a very small Nazarene church for a short period. I didn’t know that Nazarene’s did such a thing. That Wednesday night on Ash Wednesday we went through a time of repentance and then we received Ashes. I learned that these ashes were made from palm branches left over from last year’s Palm Sunday. Wow! What symbolism.
I went home that night sinning. I wasn’t sinning because I received the ashes. It was because I was proud of my ashes. As soon as I got home, I lifted my bangs and showed my husband. I said LOOK! I have ashes.
I don’t think that was the proper attitude. However, I was just glad to understand this ritual of the Church and participate in it.
Today I am wishing I could receive ashes. Today I actually wish I were in South Dakota because the Seminary is participating in Ash Wednesday. I now understand the power of ritual. Maybe it is a bit like Sleeping Beauty. I was sleeping and didn't understand. Now I have been awakened to a new way of understand.
I supposed I should prayerfully consider what I should fast for Lent?