Ash Wednesday, Walmart, and a Wonderful Friend

7 Mar

“Sharing a smile is kind of like the flu. The more you are around people, they can’t help but catch it too.”

~Toni Armenta Andrukaitis


Part of the journey in life is slipping and falling along the way; in these times true friends are the ones who pick you up and dust you off.”

― Ken Poirot


I went to Mass this morning for Ash Wednesday. I was pleasantly surprised that the church was nearly full at 8:30 in the morning on a work and school day. I’m sure the evening Mass will be crowded too.

Not everyone knows the reason that we have ashes placed on our foreheads. When I was a little girl, I had no idea what the symbolism meant, but I knew it was a sacred right, and every time I looked in a mirror, I felt special.

Ash Wednesday is a Christian holy day of prayer, fasting and repentance. … Ash Wednesday derives its name from the placing of repentance ashes on the foreheads of participants to either the words “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or the dictum “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

When Father Don gave his homily, he basically told us that as we begin this Lenten season, it wasn’t so much about giving up candy or cookies or alcohol, but more about focusing on being more aware of our duties as Christians. We should speak kinder, be more generous, help one another, be kind to strangers, reflect and pray more often, and just be aware of how blessed we are and share those blessings. As I sat there, I wondered what more I could do during Lent to be a better Catholic, a better version of myself. That’s pretty tough… she giggles in silence, as I’m already pretty amazing. (Little inside joke)

After Mass, I waited a while until the church was nearly empty. I wanted to take a picture of the crown of thorns near the altar with the backdrop of the beautiful new sanctuary. A picture is worth a thousand words…

I decided to stop at the bank and Walmart on the way home. I needed to have the auto service department check my tires. I keep getting a low tire symbol light up on my dashboard every few weeks. The man looked at the offending tire a bit, filled it with air and the light went away. He said to come back if it continued.

Since I was already there, I decided to go in and shop a while and get a few things. Time to stock up on more chocolate chips and marshmallows for brownies. I was running low, plus I was going to bake some brownies for my firemen when I got home.

As I wandered aimlessly through the aisles, I needed to go check the craft and art supply section. I absolutely didn’t need a thing, but sometimes I just need to look at paint and brushes and markers and fabric, just to get my “artist fix.” If you are a crafter or artist, you know what I’m talking about. While I was looking at the tubes of paint, my cell phone rang. I was so thrilled and delighted when I saw the name. I answered with a giggling, “Miss Della! How are you?”

My dear sweet friend Miss Della moved to Tennessee a few years ago. We keep in touch on Facebook, but we haven’t spoken in ages. She said she was looking at her Facebook page and saw my picture and something I posted and she was compelled to call just to say hello because she missed me and the ladies at Towne Creek. Then, she proceeded to tell me how much joy I’ve brought into her life and how much she loves me and thinks about me all the time. Well, we were both crying on the phone. That was one of the sweetest and kindest things I’ve heard in a very long time. It made my heart burst with joy. What perfect timing. That brightened my entire day and I’m still glowing. Love you Miss Della.

After we hung up, I continued strolling along the aisles and grinning from ear to ear. When I was checking out, Miss Debra the checker smiled and said, “How was the service?” I wasn’t sure why she would ask that. I didn’t have any special service at Walmart. Then, she pointed to the ashes on my forehead, OH! I forgot about the big ol’ cross of ashes on my head. I told her it was a very nice service and started telling her about our new church. She said several employees and friends also go to St. Gabriel’s and told her how beautiful it was. As we chatted, the lady behind me with a cart overflowing with groceries asked, “Where did you go to get ashes?” She explained that she was new to McKinney and recently moved here.

Well of course, the three of us ladies were laughing and chatting, and discussing the new church and the community. I dug into my purse and took out a business card with my name and phone number, and told the new lady, Diana, that she should call me sometime and I’d be happy to answer any questions about the area or show her around town. Miss Debra just smiled a big smile and said, “I just love what’s happening here. This is so nice.”

Well, you know me. I had to get out my phone and take some selfies of my new friends.

Miss Debra is such a sweet happy lady.

Hopefully Diana will call me soon just to say hi and keep in touch.

I’m still not sure why I seem to be so lucky and blessed, but I do know that a smile and a kind word is contagious. It’s kind of like the flu, the more you’re around people, they can’t help but catch it too.

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