7 Fast Takes

7 Fast Takes

Anthony’s Ashes

Being offline was hard. So hard. I was composing blog posts in my head all the time. But also good too, of course. Things weren’t much more quiet round here but I felt a bit more focused. Spent one morning reading to the kids when I might otherwise have been on the computer, that sort of thing. And I got some reading done in The Brothers Karamazov. So there’s that.

But anyway, here are short versions of all the blog posts I might have written. (Is that cheating on the spirit of the fast?)

1. On Ash Wednesday I wanted to post photos of the children with the ashes on their heads. Especially dear Anthony and Ben with their little smudges. I don’t know why it affects me so. I remember I saw surprised when last year the priest reached out to give Ben ashes. This year I expected it. But still, a two week old infant wearing the symbol of his mortality. He hasn’t even been baptized. Dom did get a shot of Anthony but we didn’t get the other kids. Oh well.

I also wanted to write about the smell of the old man who was near us in the crowded church. The stale smell of too many cigarettes chain smoked, of old alcohol seeping out of pores. A sad unwashed smell that speaks to me of loneliness. I noticed it and wrinkled my nose several times during Mass. Surreptitiously tried to make out where it was coming from. (Dom thinks it was the man sitting in front of him.) I didn’t think to pray for the owner of that smell till Dom mentioned it in the car on the way home. But throughout the day both Dom and I would smell it again and again. Stale smoke. I guess it must have seeped into our clothes. In Anthony’s blankets. I paused to pray for that soul. And it seemed fitting somehow, that smell of smoke, a smell of mortality that belonged to Ash Wednesday.

And one other thing. I wanted to write that the irises and daffodils and tulips are poking little green daggers through the cold earth. Maybe we’ll have spring by Easter.

2. On Thursday I wanted to write about Anthony’s 2 week checkup. 10 pounds already! My healthy little guy. About how rosy his skin is. How sweetly he slept and how loudly he cried. About Sophie flying into tears when it was time to go. She’s so volatile these days. Everything seems to send her into a tantrum.

3. On Friday Theresa flew to Texas to be there for one friend’s diaconate ordination and to be a bridesmaid in another friend’s wedding. The girls pretended they were going to a wedding/ on a plane all day. Dressed up for a wedding on the plane. I wanted to write about wearing Anthony in the new sling and how well he slept. Though he did wake a bit more in the middle of the night.

4. On Saturday I may not have gone online but I don’t think I cut down on screen time. I spent hours tagging photos of friends and family in iPhoto, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time.

Looking at photos of Bella I was suddenly, strangely overcome with thinking of all the times I’ve failed her. I suppose that was in a penitential spirit.


5. On Sunday Dom was reading the story of Queen Esther to the girls and using the most outrageous accents. I’m so glad he can do accents because doing voices for characters is not among my talents. King Ahasuerus spoke in an Indian accent. Haman spoke at first with an Irish accent which later came to sound more like a cartoon villain. Mordecai sounded American—as played by Jake Gyllenhaal. The cook and butler sounded Indian too. It was all highly amusing.

However, I’m sill annoyed that the picture book version of the story leaves out my favorite lines: “Even if you now remain silent, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another source; but you and your father’s house will perish. Who knows but that it was for a time like this that you obtained the royal dignity?” and “Fast on my behalf, all of you, not eating or drinking, night or day, for three days. I and my maids will also fast in the same way. Thus prepared, I will go to the king, contrary to the law. If I perish, I perish!”

I finished tagging all the photos in iPhoto. almost 2000 photos of Bella, almost 1500 of Sophie, almost 1000 of Ben. Looking at all those photos, loving my family as I think about them. And then getting overstimulated and snapping at Bella when she tried to climb on me. Yeah, still working on the screen time balance. Even when I’m not on the internet, the computer can still be a time sink. Nursing infants invite the distraction.

Anthony and Grandma Scott

6. On Monday I did a lot of reading with the girls. Made a loaf of bread. Getting back into the bread kick is fairly easy now while mom is here to hold the baby. Will be hard once she’s gone. Unless I can juggle doing it with him in the sling?

I spent my daily screen time reading about Japan and nuclear reactors and hunting for recipes. Somehow I always manage to fill in the time.  So hard to really just step away from the computer.


7. On Tuesday Sophie had her 3 year physical. She’s had a growth spurt, gained 4 inches and 5 pounds. So now she’s 3 feet tall and 30 pounds. A good size, though still not much larger than Ben. I think she’ll probably always be the short one of the family.

She was so very calm and collected during her exam. Didn’t cry, hardly squirmed. Sat peacefully while her finger was pricked. The doctor handed her a Leap Frog toy to play with and she happily pretended to check her email, but she’d have been just as tranquil without the distraction of the toy. She was in fact rather happy to be at the doctor.

And now I’m trying to decide what to do with the rest of Lent. I think I will still try to moderate my screen time; but I’m not going to go away again I don’t think.


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  • Jennifer,

    An interesting question. It’s been about a decade since my Irish history class so I don’t recall exactly what my professor said about the attribution of the prayer; but we did read it as a primary source, along with Patrick’s Confessions, when studying early Irish Christianity. My guess is that with anything so old, it is hard to be certain of the attribution. But if there is no certainty about whether Patrick wrote it, I’m not sure if there’s any real reason to think he didn’t either or if it’s a case of modern doubt about attribution of something that has a documentary gap. The Catholic Encyclopedia does claim it as genuine. We do know at least that it is a very old, dating to the 8th century.

    With the St Francis prayer, on the other hand, it’s almost certain that Francis did NOT write it. We do have some of Francis’ original writings and the prayer does not appear until 1912 and its first appearance was anonymous.

  • I’ve read several places that St. Patrick didn’t actually compose this prayer, but like the “Prayer of St. Francis” it’s written in the style of St. Patrick. Nevertheless, I just love the Breastplate! Thanks for sharing all these lovely variations.