The mylar balloons have been there for a couple of weeks now…bumping up against the beams, in the highest reaches of our church building — a good 50 feet or so from the floor.
You can’t really get to them without erecting a scaffold, so I suppose there the inflated stars will stay until the helium dissipates. Which could take us well into Lent.
So yeah, I’m thinking…just what I need: Something else to distract me from the marvelous eternal mysteries unfolding before my eyes at every celebration of the Eucharist.
Admittedly, the balloons were a curiosity at first — What the heck is that up there, anyway?
Then before long, they became an annoyance — Why would anyone need to bring balloons into church in the first place? And even if you convinced me that you DID need balloons for the celebration, then why on earth couldn’t you figure out a way to hold onto them for an hour?
But this week, the shiny mylars took on a different significance for me when I read an amusing blog post written by my cousin, who works on the staff of her parish in Cape Girardeau.
Lisa struck a chord when she wrote…
Am I the only one not looking forward to Lent? I have to admit working in a church office, it seems like Lent happens a lot. I know it’s only once a year. Perhaps it’s because I am surrounded by well meaning publishers pushing whatever books, leaflets, bulletin blurbs they have available for us to use during Lent, or it’s the retreats, workshops, and many, many more suggestions for Lent to make available to parish members that we advertise in our bulletin, hall and website that are making me weary. I feel like a complete Catholic failure when by the time I get to Lent I am exhausted with the idea of “doing” Lent!
As I found myself nodding in agreement, I suddenly recognized that my pre-Lenten heart had become a lot like those mylar balloons — ever so close to the presence of the Holy One…and yet perfectly content (perhaps even straining) to drift away from the Source of all the blessings in my life.
We are invited to ‘do’ Lent, of course, precisely as a way to keep our lives from becoming hopelessly entangled in the power lines overhead…or from soaring off into orbits that ultimately will lead to our destruction. The thing is, it doesn’t seem to matter how often (or how well) we’ve ‘done’ Lent in the past. The danger of ‘mylar drift’ is always there, as it has been even since the time of the great prophet Isaiah:
Why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?
So it is that I began to see those mylar balloons as a comfort, and not as an annoyance, this week. They reminded me that when my heart begins to roam, I often find myself bumping up against familiar beams and rooflines — like Lent.
Lent, which comes like clockwork each spring, assuring us of the Lord’s intent: To never let us go.
Let us pause now…to remember that we are in the presence of the Holy One.