My first confession took place Wednesday after my final prep meeting with Father. I had not been aware our church (the one in Salem, that is) even had a confessional. Just never noticed it before. And I had certainly never notice a line for confession! Which makes me wonder if I'm just that observant (dripping sarcasm here), or if having a line was a special event in honor of my first confession. ;) Nothing like knowing you intend to take up all the time Father has with almost 24 years worth of confessions, only to have to share him with six or seven other people, lol. As it happened, it didn't take as long as I expected. I noted later that I probably should have thought my examination of conscience through better, as I went through one (using an app) for married women, and I've been a married woman less than half my life since baptism! Thinking there were several child-specific sins I probably missed! Oh, well, did the best I could in good faith, and they're gone now. :)
My Triduum proved to be completely insane. Maundy Thursday, I went to Salem to do some laundry at the laundromat (because my apartment has no washer/dryer hookups, and laundry had reached desperation levels), and blew back into town just in time to be about 10 minutes late for Mass--after the fastest stop for gas in the history of driving, because my van advertised 4 miles to empty, and the station would not be open after Mass. I observed rather than participated in the foot-washing ritual. Almost wish I had participated; the shot of humility might have done me some good, but I also had on hand two of the squirreliest kids EVER! Could not believe their behavior that day, not only for Mass, but also for the entire afternoon/evening preceding Mass. Yikes. Suffice to say, I was very relieved to just get home that evening, even if it did mean I had to miss Adoration.
Good Friday was crazy busy as well, though mostly in terms of trying desperately to get the house cleaned and a spot cleared in the bedroom for the new shelves I bought Wednesday. Also ended up finally remembering to check the transmission fluid in the van. Good thing, too, as I'm pretty sure no transmission fluid on the dipstick is a bad thing. (And yes, I know you're supposed to check it while the engine is running, for those of you wondering.) And while I was taking it for a quick post-top-off test spin, I swung into a local resale shop to look for a dresser for the middle boys' bedroom--bought one, too. Then I rushed into the house, NOT dressed for church, with 30 minutes until time to be there. Yeah, I'm rocking this thing--not. Changed, took along a kid who wanted to go. Good Friday service, veneration of the Cross, then back home to stick some swai fillets in the oven and fix some rice and carrots to go with it.
I hear from friends that Triduum tends to be a trying time, particularly for those entering the Church. Like Satan feels like he can frazzle us out of it at the last minute--or at least ruin the event for us. Nice try, is all I can say. Your efforts were wasted. But hey, if you're bugging me, maybe you're leaving someone else alone, so bring it on.
Saturday night, I got to bed ridiculously late, after getting all the kids bathed and in bed, myself showered, and Easter baskets put together. But I was up uncharacteristically early Easter morning. Baked cupcakes for the potluck after Mass, got dressed, got the kids and husband up and dressed. Still managed to turn up almost late for Mass!
Amazing how many things they forget to tell you. . . when we arrived, my dear friend and sponsor, Marca, was waiting outside to inform me that we were to sit up front--thankfully they had saved us seats, because our tiny church was packed full to bursting! We hurriedly took our seats, someone passed me a corsage--still not really sure where that came from--and a candle, which I ended up passing off to my oldest son, since I was kind of busy during the candle part of the Mass. :) And the magic began. I will remember all of it, and none of it. I felt utterly removed from everyone and everything around me. The smell of the incense, the sound of Alison dropping the thurible (you only thought no one noticed!), the beauty of the palms and the lilies, the return of the music after the long weeks of Lent, the joy of having my husband and children there with me--these are things I will certainly remember. I'll remember the smell of the chrism, and the nerves at being the center of attention during the recitation of the Creed and profession of faith, and of thinking that surely I screwed up some liturgical etiquette by not bowing or something as I approached the podium to read those words, but the nerves had me, and I wasn't exactly sure what I should do or when. Hopefully, my dear friends will forgive me my faux pas. :) I will also remember feeling as though I could practically see the angels and saints all around the altar, and Mary and Monica waiting to walk beside me.
Then Marcia, kneeling beside me, leaned over and whispered, "You go to Communion first." O.o Well that's good information to have! I'm sure I should probably have already known this, and as much reading as I've done, Father can be forgiven for not seeing the need to mention it. But somehow, that little bit of information slipped through the cracks! So I stood, alone. All eyes on me, again. (Should I mention that my constant prayer of the morning was, "Please, God, don't let me screw this up."?) And stepped forward to receive my Lord. And in that moment, it was just He and I. As it should be. I realized after, as I watched the rest file by, that I'd forgotten the Sign of the Cross between the elements, but really, I doubt God was displeased. I can hardly see Him being the sort of Father who, when His child does something, for the very first time and with every intention of pleasing Him, would chastise her for a small mistake. He was pleased; I could feel it in my heart.
And I will remember (and, truthfully, after a couple more Masses I can honestly say I continue to feel) a profound sense of gratitude. Gratitude that Christ would come to me in this way, and give Himself to me. Gratitude that, unworthy as I am, He counts me worthy, because of His love for me.
I will remember being surrounded by the love and best wishes of these friends who are, now more than ever, a family to me. I'll remember the beautiful gifts they gave me, and the fun my children had hunting for Easter eggs. I'll remember Rachel's beautiful eggs, decorated with stickers and glitter and mod podge (I think is the term), and how she taught me that farm eggs actually dye up quite beautifully--I wouldn't have expected that.
I'll remember floating through the day on a cloud of happiness--not altogether unlike my wedding day, but perhaps with a bit more performance anxiety. :) The day I got married, I didn't care what went wrong, just so long as I was Mrs. Christopher Duncan at the end of it. And I'll remember my darling husband amusing the kids for a while in the evening, granting me the rare opportunity to take a nap and recover from all the lost sleep of the night before. And how my bedroom still smelled of chrism later that night, from it rubbing off on my pillow.
Yes, even without photos (though I still wish I had them to share), I will remember.