Ashes to Ashes

Today is Ash Wednesday – the start of Lent. The color of Lent is purple.

Lenten Cross

Today, before the service, I walked up to Father Bradley and said “Father, I’d like to ask you to put some ashes on my forehead today – unless that’s an imposition?”

I’ve been thinking about this Lenten season – what to take on, what to set aside. There’s the usual notion of getting rid of things that stand between God and I – but then, the sane person would ask, “why would you want those anyway?”

Sometimes it seems, to me and for me, that Lent can be a sort of “test drive” for daily disciplines. What would my life be like without ever checking the financial markets? What would my life be like if I didn’t have my afternoon snack? What would my life be like if I gave up picking up dog poop until after Easter?

But the fact that I’m in Lent reminds me that I belong to the Episcopal church, and that there are certain things that go along with that. For one thing, there was last night’s Shrove Tuesday pancake supper.

Roman Catholics celebrate Fat Tuesday by drunken revelry, half-naked and covered with beads on floats on Bourbon Street. Episcopals eat pancakes for supper. If they’re really feeling loose and wild, they’ll have huckleberry pancakes instead.

Ethel and I are in ketosis, so we didn’t eat pancakes – but we did go to the pancake supper to do service. Ethel wound up cooking pancakes – I, myself, was assigned Second Dishwasher behind a guy who had no intention of ever letting anybody else wash a dish. She finished cooking by 5:45, and I gave up trying to get close to the sink, so we were home by 6 PM.

Lent reminds me also that I am “marked as one of God’s own”. I wear the ashes until they wash off naturally; I am telling myself that I’m grateful for this, and telling others that I am not ashamed.

This morning, I noted the purple color of the alter and vestments – noticed it very strongly. It seemed to fill the room. Now, I’m not a purple person – but for some reason, the idea of purple as royalty hit me very hard today. We like to talk about the Carpenter walking around in a robe and sandals, but I also want to remember that He was most definitely KING – not as we think of that, but as “absolute monarch”. He could have made the tide stay out, on a whim. King Canute went out to stop the tide to show that he COULDN’T do it – but also as a reflection of knowing who could.

This year, we will miss Easter, as we’re flying to Cozumel on Holy Saturday. That’s hard; we’ve gotten very tied to the observances during Holy Week, and watching The Passion of the Christ on Good Friday without the Hallelujahs of Easter might be a bummer.

But the fact that we won’t be in church on Easter Sunday does NOT stop Easter from happening.

And then, after that, I’ll be free to pick up dog poop again.


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