Ready or not, Lent is upon us! This week's Friday Five is from Mother Laura at RevGalBlogPals.
1. Did you celebrate Mardi Gras and/or Ash Wednesday this week? How?
I spent Tuesday evening at a largely Quaker retirement village. My hostess told me that dinner would be a traditional Mardi Gras feast, then looked at me as if I was nuts when I said how much I love pancakes. The menu was catfish and gumbo and bread pudding with praline sauce, and it was delicious. Still, the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper is my tradition, even if the food is not as exciting as the Mardi Gras menu.
2. What was your most memorable Mardi Gras/Ash Wednesday/Lent?
The most memorable Shrove Tuesday was the year we made too many pancakes and too much sausage. The Youth Group, which hosted the Pancake Supper, solved the problem by having a sausage-eating contest. I won. Blech! What a tummy-ache.
The most memorable Ash Wednesday was when I was in about 7th Grade. I insisted that my parents drive me to the Ash Wednesday service. I can still remember the dry chalky feel of the ash on my forehead. The silky ash that sometimes forms in our fireplace can transport me back there in an instant. The depth of my adolescent piety was just as gawky as everything else about me at age 13, but the feeling that I was participating in something ancient, along with my dawning sense that belief was about suffering as well as joy, was a transforming experience.
The most memorable Lent was in 1981. My father died suddenly at age 42 just after Ash Wednesday. (I was 20.) The images of loss, grief and loneliness during Lent were so strong for me that year, I couldn't bear to go to church at all during Lent or Holy Week. I thought that Easter would make me feel better, but the Resurrection story and readings for the Easter season were just as piercing. I sat in the back pew on Sundays so that I could escape when it got to be too much.
3. Did you/your church/your family celebrate Lent as a child? If not, when and how did you discover it?
4. Are you more in the give-up camp, or the take-on camp, or somewhere in between?
A little of each. My participation in Lenten discipline has waxed and waned over the years, and I have been in a waning period recently. One of my daughters loves Lent and we often go to church together on Wednesday evenings.
5. How do you plan to keep Lent this year?
My parish hosts weekly Lenten dinners after the Wednesday evening service -- homemade soup, salad and freshly baked bread. Simple and delicious. I don't usually stay for the class afterward. I hope to attend at least two or three of these, though work and family responsibilities make it difficult.