This Good Friday, it took us a manic 35 minutes to get out the door to hit my parish's Stations of the Cross at noon.
Six people needed to find rain gear and matching shoes. The Baby needed a ton of stuff. We had to find the bus passes, the water bottles, and (no I'm not exaggerating here) forty-one urgently almost overdue library books.
We hit the bus stop with six seconds to spare. We all jumped off at church. Maria (my 3 year old) is currently going on a walking strike. "I'm tired" she announces each and every time we bring out the new "big girl" stroller for Baby Tess. Since my beloved spouse is currently an overloaded pack mule with 41 overdue library books precariously balanced on his back, I offer to carry the sulky three year old. Since I'm a weakling, this really means, "carry a happy middle daughter for one city block, put her down, and drag her sobbing by the hand for the next city block. rinse and repeat."
I feel a little wilted by the time we reach our parish church.
We walk in.
I point out the missing Holy Water to the kids, pass out Station of the Cross booklets to the kids (I'm so charmed that Alex makes sure that our little Tess has one!) and dragged a parade of my family to the empty Tabernacle behind the alter.
Two alter guild ladies were cleaning out the Tabernacle and kept giving me odd, surprised glances. "Dudes this is educational..." I thought. I assertively keep going with my little pre-Mass show and tell speech. "Today the Tabernacle is bare. The cloth is missing. The Tabernacle is unlocked and empty. Jesus isn't with us today. Today, and JUST for today, we don't have to bow when we walk past it. Can everyone see the empty spot inside there?"
Then we made a beeline to the back of the church. We flung 6 coats and three large backpacks in a huge pile on one of the pews. I notice that the coats are sort of precariously hanging over the edge.
"Should we go ahead and start?" Jon asks me. It's still at good 30 minutes before the official Stations of the Cross being. "Okay!" I said cheerfully. "I don't think our kids can really handle the official service today."
"Station One: Pilate Condemns Jesus. Everyone on the right page?" Flish! Flash! We get through the 12 lickety-split. Everyone is focused. Everyone is interested. We keep moving down through all the Stations of the Cross. We kneel at "His Death." We kiss the cross. We pray in sympathy with Mary. We bury the body.
And then we are done.
The whole thing--maybe took ten minutes.
"Are we finished? Do we want to go to go to the playground now," Jon asked me.
"Yes!" I said.
Later when we were at our favorite city candy store (yes, I bribe my children with penny candy to attend Church!) Jon was remarking that "this was the best Stations of the Cross yet!"
"Everyone is getting older," we agreed. But then we also realized that we were getting a little less selfish. Last year, I would have tried to make our prayer time "worth more." It took so much time to get out of the house, my husband took the day off from work, I should make this holy devotion last longer and "get our money's worth..." But just for a moment, I got to let go a little of my vanity--my concern about looking pious for strangers in my church.
This Good Friday was all pleasing Jesus--not myself. If I never to get meditate for serious time in front of the cross, that is all well and good. Maybe I can meditate alone in my bedroom tonight, maybe not. Meanwhile, the short, sweet and very devoted time my teeny children spent walking the Stations of the Cross was time well spent.