Friday, February 27, 2009
Gettin My Ash On
On Ash Wednesday I ended up attending my church’s Spanish mass at noon because the English mass was at 8 a.m. (be serious). I sat there for an hour trying to follow along, wondering how it’s possible that I took Spanish for nine years and the only words I understood were Jesu Christo.
There were two priests doling out ashes that day. When I saw people in my line walking back with undefined round dots in their forehead, I jumped lines. That’s right. I’m a sacramental line-jumper. As the possessor of a fivehead, I have a substantial canvas to work with and the smaller the dot, the larger it looks. I needed someone with some spatial proportion consideration. Also, I have a pronounced forehead vein to contend with and Ash Wednesday is the only day that it gets to travel under the cover of darkness.
When I got home I looked at my cross in the mirror and saw that the priest had undercompensated on one side. Moreover, he didn’t really follow-through on the downstroke either. It looked like I had an “L” on my forehead, which is probably what I deserved. It could’ve been worse. At least I didn’t have to take my work ID photo on Ash Wednesday this time. But it certainly wasn’t the Immaculate Cross of 2008, the likes of which we will probably never see again. That year I had people stopping me on the street to compliment me on my cross. One fellow Catholic I walked past turned to their friend and said, “See, now that’s a cross.” For 12 hours that day, my forehead -- usually the subject of ridicule -- knew what it was to be special. I felt like one of those handicapped kids that gets one day to dress up in designer clothes, meet their favorite rock star and get a spa treatment at Elizabeth Arden.
But back to 2009: My forehead was a bit itchy (I forgot to moisturize that morning) but I was determined not to mess with God's work. Instead of scratching my forehead, I spent the afternoon stabbing at the itch with my longest fingernail. Then I realized my internet was down and wound up having a particularly harrowing phone conversation with Time Warner, during which I absentmindedly ran the back of my hand over my forehead several times. The results were not pretty. No longer content to remain confined in an "L", the ashes had pilgrimaged across my forehead in search of the Promised Land. This also happened to be the night of Jessica's birthday drinks. When my forehead and I arrived at the bar, the dim lights further confused matters.
“Oh my gosh, Noelle, is that a bruise?!” people exclaimed. “What happened to your head?”
After several hours and glasses of wine (I know, but if you factor in the Holy Trinity, I was drinking for four), I said my farewells. By the time I got home this is what my forehead was left with: the cloud monster from Lost. In case you were wondering where it’s been this season.
Posted by Noelle Hancock