‘Twas the night before Ash Wednesday

By Regina Hiney

‘Twas the night before Ash Wednesday
And all through the rooms
Every cushion was overturned
Every piece of old candy found and consumed
The children were negotiating their Lenten promises in bed
Trying to find loopholes in saintly feast days ahead 
With wine and Facebook and chocolate on tap
I was trying to reconcile myself to the long Lenten slap
When all through the house there arose such a clatter
I ignored all the noise for I cared not for their chatter.
Not to the window, I durst not look out
I had 40 days to wander aimlessly; bored and about.
The moon on the breast on the new-fallen snow
Gave the luster of loathing to my crestfallen low. 

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But the cross and the grace to try to persevere 
With little old prayer beads, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment this flesh must be licked.
More rapid than eagles His angels they came,
And He whispered, I answered, He called me by name.
Now, Sons! Now, Daughters! Now, Children! Now, come!
On command: Love one another as I have loved every one.
From the mountain of beatitude to the hill of the cross, 
If you value your life, don’t be afraid of the loss. 
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the altars our sacrifices anew,
and with heart full of prayers, I had better things to pursue. 
And then, in a twinkling, I heard in my heart
The cloud of great witnesses cheering my part 
The race we are running, that Lent helps us to win
That heavenly banquet once clouded by sin.

He was dressed all in white, from His head to His foot,
And my clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of sins He had born on His back,
And He looked like a thief, just come from the rack.
His eyes, how they wept! His hands bore the holes.
His back had the scars, His heart knew all the souls.
His side was the fount of love and mercy itself
And immediately I knew the guilt of myself.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to His work,
And paid all my debt, not a sin did He shirk.
And giving a nod, up to the Father He rose
Sending another to come and plant, and grace overflows.

So as we begin this sojourn, as they days grow long,
We pray. We fast. And give alms to right wrongs.
We look to the cross and we fight that good fight.
No Easter can be had without Good Friday's dark night.

Regina Hiney is a senior faculty member from St. Michael the Archangel High School in Fredericksburg, Virginia.