This morning I happened to catch a tweet from one of my new Triberr buddies, who said she wanted to eat King cake today. Yep, it's that time of year. Mardi Gras. That means tomorrow is Ash Wednesday.
When you're Catholic, there are two pertinent questions on Ash Wednesday. When you're with your non-Catholic friends, they find an expression that's equal parts embarrassment and concern as they tap you on the shoulder. "There's something black smudged on your forehead. Did you know that?" Um, yeah I did. It's ashes, and the priest went kinda crazy. I may well be marked like this for a week, but I think I'll live through it.
Then there's the question Catholics ask each other. "What are you giving up for Lent?" Good question, that. What am I giving up for Lent? How 'bout I give up dealing with surly adolescents? Hmm. There might be laws against it, since I gave birth to them. Maybe I could give up the rain. I'd like to. No more rain, or at least a lot less of it. Hmm. I live in Seattle and it's February. Good luck with that one, too.
Then I could give up dieting. The current incarnation involves avoiding grains - except for the pint of beer I have every Saturday night. It's for the nutrients, you know. If I gave up dieting, at least for today, I could have King cake. You know, that's not such a bad idea. I'll have King cake and beer for supper tonight, and then in the morning I can ponder something that'll be a little more meaningful.
As crazy as it sounds, Ash Wednesday - and all the other weird little holidays the church comes up with - are really a gift. They help locate me in time, framing the year with traditions that go back centuries. The Gregorian Communion antiphon for Ash Wednesday translates as, "He who meditates day and night on the law of the Lord shall bring forth his fruits in due season." I like the image of bringing forth your fruits when the time is right. And tonight it's time to party. Laissez les bons temps rouler!