I don’t know much about Lent and Ash Wednesday and the other stuff leading up to Easter. I do know it’s a big deal around here. Two priests serviced the campus ---if ‘service’ is the right word for going around painting crosses on peoples' foreheads with ashes. They’ll be here each Friday through out Lent to do the fourteen Stations of the Cross. The only custom of Lent I’ve ever taken part in is eating Packzi’s on Fat Tuesday and listening to others share what they are giving up for Lent. Apparently the fad this year is giving up something different each day which, to me, seems like a cop out. How can giving up something for one day be a hardship? If it’s supposed to be a test of self-discipline and sacrifice they are testing nothing compared to Jesus going off to the desert to fast and pray for 40 days and 40 nights before dying on the cross.
I've also read that giving up something for Lent is a sort of house cleaning of the mind according to Rev. Joseph Yoo, by prioritizing God to the center of our thoughts which, I guess, if you give up something every day you're doing that with forty little decisions instead of just the one big one at the beginning of Lent. What keeps me from claiming to be a Christian is I don't believe in the whole Easter thing. I mean if Jesus died on the Cross and was resurrected, then he either died a second time years from then or he's been ghosting humanity all these centuries later. I know the answers Biblical scholars give to that dilemma but I'm not buying it.
Of course, the management here uses any old excuse to have theme dinners in our main dining room where they serve food buffet style and charge you twice as much as they usually do. Mardi Gras night to kick off the season of Lent was such an event but I couldn’t go because everything but the booze and the dessert had shellfish in it. Those who attended said it was a major disaster because no one could eat the overly spiced shrimp and craw-fish. It was so bad the kitchen manager cut the price from $25 down to $12 and they ended up cooking a second meal for those who attended. It seems the shellfish came from the seafood market with a packet of spices and the kitchen staff just put them all in the pot without tasting what they were cooking. They were thoroughly embarrassed.
Never the less those who attended grabbed up and wore all the cheap plastic beads that were hanging all over the place and the next day at lunch they were asking each other why Mardi Gras is decorated in green, purple and gold. No one knew. Neither did I but I do know that there was a time and place in history when only royalty and the clergy were allowed to wear purple. It was the most expensive clothe back in the day because the antiquity purple dyes were hard to get. The Catholic church now, according to a short google search, claims purple is worn for Advent and Lent because it “reflects sorrow and suffering” but excuse me for being a Doubting Thomas about why the Popes loved their purple velvets back in the day when peasants couldn’t legally wear them.
This has been a boring week around here not only because of Lent but we’re in the middle of a major ice storm and just about anything that required people to travel anywhere within the city got canceled including church services on Ash Wednesday and here on campus a movie I was actually going to see staring Morgan Freeman, The Story of God. I’m hoping next week it will be rescheduled. A priest was leading a discussion about the film afterward and I actually met the guy when I was staying in Respite Care. He came to my room to introduce himself since I was new there. I told him I wasn’t Catholic but I was glad there was a priest in the building and where that sentiment came from I don’t know. I was no longer on the hard drugs for pain so I can’t blame it on that. He was like a friendly puppy who would have been fun to talk with if I hadn’t just been uprooted from my normal life.
My niece gets a report on all the things my brother takes part in over in the Memory Care building and she happened to mention that she was surprised that he took part in a Catholic Church service. I laughed because I figured that friendly puppy-priest could talk a lot of non-Catholics and non-religious people into following him down to a church service. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When you want to make old people smile send in a puppy. Jeez, is he a sign they could make a Christian out of me yet?
Season one of this National Geographic’s God series is billed as, “Morgan Freeman presents his quest in order to find how most religions perceive life after death, what different civilizations thought about the act of creation and other big questions that mankind has continuously asked.” And if I don’t see the movie this coming month, I hope I live another year so I’ll have another opportunity next year to see it---they showed it last year which is why I think it will be a holiday tradition.
I did learn one new thing about Lent this year, though, that the ashes they paint the crosses on believers' foreheads with are supposed to come from burning palm leaves from the previous year which is more symbolism I’m too lazy now to research and share. At the lunch table of twelve on Ash Wednesday only four of us didn’t have the cross of charcoal on our foreheads which is proof positive of what I’ve said all along. My favorite lunch table is truly a Catholic table. ©