Truth, Beauty, and Goodness

For Catholic people, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of forty days of Lent. This tradition symbolizes the forty days Christ spent alone in in the Judean Desert fighting off three temptations of Satan meant to derail Christ from realizing the divine virtues of truth, beauty, and goodness.

I didn’t realize it was Ash Wednesday until I saw that photo. I’m sure you know to which photo I am referring. A blond woman, holding a wailing woman to her left shoulder, herself weeping, black cross of ash smeared on her forehead. It’s hard for me to look at this image, but it’s already burned in my memory.

At home . . . drawing pictures . . . of mountain tops . . . with him on top . . . lemon yellow sun. . . arms raised in a ‘V’. . .The dead lay in pools of maroon below. . .

I turned the volume down. I get one station on my car radio. I don’t know why. The lack of options doesn’t typically bother me, but Mr. Vedder’s ballad form the 90s was a bit too much for me on this evening.

I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to be alone to sit around thinking about a crying blond woman or kids huddled on the floor and in closets or bodies covered in blood and riddled with bullet holes. I didn’t want to look at my Facebook feed which largely consisted of my online community blaming guns, mental illness, psychotropic drugs, the lack of God in schools, a disrespectful generation of children, and/or the moral decay of our society.

That’s how I made a last minute decision and ended up at ‘Grown-Up Coloring Night’ at Good Shepherd Arts Center in Ferguson.

The publications person with Sisters of the Good Shepherd interviewing me jotted notes down quickly as I answered her questions.

Woman 1: What made you want to come to this event tonight?

Me: (Purposely leaving out the bit about avoiding thoughts of bullet riddled bodies) I saw the event on Facebook and it said that well-behaved children and animals were welcome, so I thought I would give it a try. And the event was free.

Woman 1: Well she is well-behaved. What a doll!

I looked at my daughter. In that moment, she was wiggling her hips to 1940s swing music as a table of older women clapped and cheered her on.

There were about a dozen women there. They were mostly older than me and they were all very friendly. More importantly, they all seemed to do their best to make my little one smile. My child was having a fantastic time dancing, playing the piano, sharpening colored pencils, coloring alongside whichever woman handed her a crayon. It made my heart swell to see my daughter interacting with these women. For a few moments after yet another national tragedy, I felt truth, beauty, and goodness. This is what I’m thankful for this week.

Photos credit to Jeanette McDermott

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