The calendar said it was “Mardi Gras” as the Billlikens took to the court versus LaSalle last night. But all in all, Chaifetz Arena seemed to have more of an “Ash Wednesday” vibe going throughout the game.
Don’t get me wrong: I was pleased as punch to have my first “in-person” opportunity to see my favorite basketball team play this season. On the other hand, it was a bit disorienting to be among the few hundred fans who were allowed into a building designed to seat nearly 10,000.
Sure, there was lots of room for us to remain “socially distant”. But as for injecting some “sixth-man” energy into the contest? Not so much.
While we all cheered our little hearts out as the Billikens were taking care of business, I’m not convinced anyone at court-level actually noticed. The arena’s vast empty spaces seemed to swallow up our exhortations and encouragements.
Which is to say, it was a humbling night to be a fan. The home team managed to put a 21-point whuppin’ on the visitors…without needing much of anything in the way of moral support from those of us in the “crowd.”
But “humbling” is a good look for me, I’ve decided – now that Ash Wednesday has indeed arrived…
..for COVID has changed that semi-cherished part of my life, too.
To wit: I got my ashes this morning, all right. But not blotched on my forehead, where everyone would notice. Rather, in order preserve social distance, the deacon sprinkled ashes atop my head – where they served only to make my silver-gray follicles look a little more dingy than they normally do.
And how can it be that it took something like a pandemic…for this lesson in humility to start to sink in? After all, the words of Jesus are there to caution us on Ash Wednesday, each and every year:
…do not blow a trumpet before you…to win the praise of others.
Rather, the Lord says, it’s a proper thing for us to begin this season in a place far removed from the adoring crowds:
…when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
This is something worth pondering anew, is it not: that a “HumbLent”…can be a Lent well-spent?
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.