Mother Laura brings us this Lenten themed Friday Five with the following questions:
1. Did you celebrate Mardi Gras and/or Ash Wednesday this week? How? The Mardi Gras turned out to be our caucus...and it was kind of a wild party. Way more people than expected, lots of energy, laughter, a feeling of celebration. There were even some happy dances when the election results were annouced. We also celebrated Ash Wednesday in the traditional fashion. As I blogged about earlier in my Ash Wednesday post, it was my first time to be the one to "impose" the ashes, and I found that term strangely discordant as it felt like such a gift to remind the people I love that we all are of God, come from God, are in God and go back to God.
2. What was your most memorable Mardi Gras/Ash Wednesday/Lent? A few years back I was in Mexico during Lent and it was wonderful to see the street celebration in our little village. The festival is a moveable feast that lasts for several days and manages to be both solemn and festive. One person explained to me that it starts in one village on Ash Wednesday and then moves throughout the area all through Lent, each village also venerating their own particular saint. There was food and dancing, lots of church, but also lots of feasting in the square and a parade with a band each night that went around with banners of the saint along with banners of Jesus and Mary.
3. Did you/your church/your family celebrate Lent as a child? If not, when and how did you discover it? I was raised Roman Catholic in a town that called itself "Little Rome." We Took Lent Seriously. From Ash Wednesday on no candy touched our lips. It was no meat on Wednesdays in addition to the normal Fridays, Stations of the Cross every Friday at three. Weekly confession was encouraged as well as the taking on of some other kind of spiritual discipline. Thise who were laggards about daily Mass were urged to get with the program. Often we would be encouraged to take the money we would have spent on candy and put it in a jar for the poor, or towards our "pagan babies." If you were tempted to slide, Sister would be happy to encourage you with stories of the martyrs who "gave their lives for Christ and you can't give up a little candy or a little sleep?" While I'm not sure I got the "celebrated" part as I do now, I always got that it was important, and in later years, I am grateful for that grounding.
4. Are you more in the give-up camp, or the take-on camp, or somewhere in between? They are so intertwined. It's hard to say. Not giving up just for the sake of, but to make space for, or to open myself to. And the same with taking on. not taking on something just to take it, but holding it for a purpose, to support something, or to add something. The disciplines it seems are not ends in themselves but there to prepare us...to be, to do...if they are not doing that, they are just busy work.
5. How do you plan to keep Lent this year? Very carefully. I have the what but not the how all sorted. I know the focus:radical trust in God and figuring out how to better manifest that in submission to God's will. The actualizing of that in practice is, I am beginning to think, going to be the Lenten discipline, one day at a time. I'm going to be posting daily, meeting weekly with a group of people who are gathering for support and prayer in support of the spiritual disciplines we are all practicing this Lent, and I'll be going to some additional prayer and reflection services. The rest will evolve in God's time.