Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Purple is for Preparation...

Earlier last Fall, my 3-year-old began shouting at the top of her lungs singing beautifully a new song she learned at school: "Purple is for prep-ar-at-tion; Green is for the grow-ing time. Red and white...are the co-lors of the LIGHT!" After a little research, I discovered the words to the song, called "The Liturgical Colors Song" by Holly Tosco from the Catechises of the Good Shepherd:

 Purple and green...red and white are the colors of the year.

Purple and green...red and white remind us of the light.
Purple is for preparation;
white is for celebration;
green is for the growing time,
red is for Pentecost.
Purple and green...red and white are the colors of the year.
Purple and green...red and white remind us of the light.

The near constant rendition of this song in our house has led to a keen watching at the beginning of Mass to see what color the priest is wearing. Even my two-year old has been known to shout during particularly quiet moments of reflection: "He's wearing green! GREEN Mommy!" Nonetheless, this has been an excellent lesson for me as well in thinking about the seasons of the year, and the seasons that God has given us with which to prepare, again and again, for His coming. And now we all know that starting with the liturgical move into the season of Lent, he will be wearing purple —  for prep-ar-a-tion. 
It so happens that I love to prepare. Or, more accurately, I hate being caught unprepared: I hate fumbling for an answer to a question at a meeting, or trying to cover up the stack of dishes overflowing the kitchen sink when the neighbor "pops by" for a visit. At work I carved out time to prepare for  briefings, meetings,  presentations, even phone calls; at home before hosting a meal or house guest I clean, cook, and make lots and lots of lists; and for trips I pack days, sometimes even weeks in advance. My preparation for these events is deliberate, planned, and a bit compulsive.

So...  what does it mean that the Church gives us a time to "prepare?" And...for what are we preparing?  I pondered these questions with conviction last fall during Advent. While I prepped for work meetings with vigor, and I clean my carpets with zeal, how am I focusing on readying myself for the single most important meeting I will ever have, the most defining "trip" I will ever take -- that singular moment when I see Him face to Face? "Do not be caught sleeping," the Lord forewarns. 
The voice of my 3-year-old will echo in my mind for all ages whenever I think about the liturgical year. And so, as I crest the night from Fat Tuesday to Ash Wednesday, I prepare to prepare. The kids and I have made our Lent calendars, our alms giving jars, and talked about fasting (I'm giving up treats! my 3-year-old declared. Aha, I thought to myself). Tonight I'll eat my jambalaya and cake. And then I'll go to bed with the (gulp) anticipation of a spiritual deep spring scrubbing. When is the time to prepare? "Now is the acceptable time, now is “the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2)."

Now, and now, and NOW!  So here we go.

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