|New Life, New Creation!|
Ash Wednesday, one of the three most popular holy days among church going Catholics, has crept upon us once again. In church attendance, it is surpassed only by Christmas and Easter. What is its appeal? Father Ryan’s homily suggested that it was a chance for “a new beginning.” This is surely so. The imminent coming of spring, the opportunity to “clean up your act,” to atone for recent indiscretions and start once more - there is all that about Ash Wednesday and Lent. But Rebecca and I have long held that the true allure for so many is the charm of “Free Ashes.” Who can resist the prospect of having a black smudge on your forehead for the rest of the day? The church was indeed packed. As expected, there was standing room only.
The coming of Ash Wednesday also means that one must decide what to sacrifice for Lent in order to prepare for Easter. In my youth I always gave up candy. This seemed pretty standard among my contemporaries. And it was indeed a sacrifice. I went to the movies every Saturday of my young life, and an important part of going to the movies was the candy. Fortunately, there was still popcorn, but it's not the same.
This year I am giving up playing Bridge with my computer, and I can assure you that this is a sacrifice. I love it, and waste many hours with it. I plan to do something positive in the time saved, but I have not quite decided what that will be. Usually, I try to read nursing articles, and probably that is what I will do again, but I want to so something else as well. I will report back if I think of something good.
During Lent we are also supposed to fast – one real meal a day and two tiny ones, and abstain (no meat) on Wednesdays and Fridays. The latter is no problem, as I abstain every day of my life. But the former…… I had planned to do this, but got off to a very rocky start. It is not required for old folks like me, but I thought that for the first time in my life I would actually consciously do this. I had never paid much attention to this rule in the past, I have to confess. I got up, had some tea. Tea is not eating, so it doesn’t count. After a while I had a nice date biscotti. This will usually carry me through till lunch, but in a very short while, I was starving. So I had another. Then after a tiny bit, I was starving again. So I had a dish of cottage cheese. Cottage cheese seems like the sort of food that doesn’t really count, don’t you think? By then it was nearly lunch time, and of course I was fainting from hunger, so I had some yogurt. This didn’t last, and so I had an couple of crumpets to tide me over till dinner, which was after Mass. The heroine in the book I was reading ordered a bowl of olives to go with her coffee. Suddenly, I had to have some olives. I just had to. After that, I noticed a packet of Dots. These had been sitting in my candy bowl for about two years and had never tempted me. Now they were screaming, “Eat me! Eat me!” I obeyed.
After Mass, I had a huge Indian meal with Samos at a favorite restaurant. Not only was I not going to be eating all day because it Lent and fasting time, but I had planned to save my appetite for this meal so that I could be a piggy with less guilt. I was a piggy anyway, despite not having saved my appetite at all. Then, the final downfall – Samos handed me bits of a chocolate bar during the film. I totally forgot my resolve, and savored them fully. Oh well, I can begin again today. Things are going better so far, because I haven’t been thinking about not eating. That makes it a lot easier to not eat.