Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Belated Happy Fat Tuesday & Somber Ash Wednesday?

Yesterday was the Happy Fat Tuesday; or as it’s probably better know as Mardi Gras.  In the US, Mardi Gras brings up images of wild parties in New Orleans, masks, beads, and women baring their breasts. It’s the day before Ash Wednesday when you do a last bit of splurging before giving up something for Lent.  Then it’s forty days of going without or limiting or whatever deal you’ve made with yourself and God.  Quite often in years pass I’ve given up coffee, chocolate, and caffeine or I’ve limited my sweets, or tried to be nicer to other people.  Sometimes, I’m successful at these things and at others I’m a total failure.  The total failures I knock up to “pie in the sky” ideals when my feet are firmly planted in the clay of the earth. 

Today is Ash Wednesday.  It’s that time of year when us silly Catholics get ashes put on our foreheads.  More than almost anytime of year, the church will be filled to almost overflowing and all of these Catholics even the “cafeteria” Catholics like me want ashes on their forehead.  There’s just something with the symbolism of smeared ashes on your face.  It certainly makes you stand out in the crowd when you go to the grocery store afterwards; especially in Utah.

I remember in years past purposely going to the grocery store after the evening Ash Wednesday Mass.  I wanted to stand out and try to be different from most of the LDS culture.  It was like I was trying to be a thorn in the side.  I would go down the aisles and just wait for someone to say that I had dirt on my forehead.  But nope!  No one said anything.  If anything at times it seemed that everyone was avoiding me.  Talk about clearing out an aisle at the grocery store!  There was no eye contact with from the girl at check out.  It seemed as though I was ignored or worse avoided like I was demon spawn.  It took all the fun out of it.  So after a few years, I stopped running errands afterwards.  I would go straight home and wash off the ashes just before bedtime.

Then I changed to going to a noon Ash Wednesday Mass at the Salt Lake City Cathedral.  I would take a longer lunch to go.  It would piss off a fellow co-worker who I am convinced has never liked me since she found out I was Catholic.  Talk about being the demon spawn in this case I might as well have been.  I would come back from my long lunch hour with the smudged ashes on my forehead and she would glare at me every time she went by desk during the afternoon.  Talk about how to lose friends and alienate people, I was on that path!  Well, after a few years even attempting to piss off a co-worker got a bit old, and I felt it just wasn’t at all in the spirit of the Lent season.

So this year, I’ve kind of opted out of the whole Ash Wednesday.  I’m not sure if I’m going to be giving up or doing anything for Lent.  It just seems like after years of trying to be a thorn in the side; I need a year of backing off and getting some space.  I guess that’s one of the benefits of being a “cafeteria” Catholic.

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