It’s Lent. A time for penitence and reflection. And I have a confession to make.
I set the altar on fire. It wasn’t my fault. Honestly. I was only nine.
You see, it was some feast day or other and our teacher – a nun – was marking the day. In the corner of our classroom stood an elevated altar with a statue of Our Lady adorned with a holy communion veil. On this particular day, the statue was surrounded by colourful tissue flowers which we were making in the classroom. We discovered that the more we made, the less school work we did. So the production line kept going.
With the 4-ply multi-coloured tissue boxes on the classroom tables almost empty, nightlights were added to the altar. And they were lit!
I went over to add the final few flowers. And being short of stature, even then, I stretched up to reach over the candles. The inevitable happened. I dropped the yellow and pink tissue flowers and, ... well, … holy smoke!
So, while everyone else walks around on Ash Wednesday with the ashes of burned palms on their forehead, I am reminded of how every year I guiltily and secretly wear ashes from tissue flowers and an old nun’s altar!