It was a chilly Mardi Gras in New Orleans yesterday, but it didn’t stop revelers from throwing plastic beads all over the place. I won’t pretend to understand. The closest I ever got to anything like this annual celebration was the time I went to a casino in Las Vegas. Every 20 minutes, giant floats suspended from the ceiling circled the casino and masked characters threw plastic beads all over the place. I started doing a little back of the envelope calculation and figured this casino was responsible for putting whole shiploads of plastic beads into Las Vegas landfills. It really turned me off, but then again, Las Vegas is one big landfill.
I didn’t celebrate Mardi Gras yesterday, but I did eat a Bismarck pastry after I had my teeth cleaned.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season for some Christian denominations. It can be a time of fasting, contemplation, and moderation. It’s all well and good to give up some creature comforts for a season, but living sacrificially is more than swearing off plastic beads for forty days. Growing up Catholic, I learned the rhythms of old school Lent. No meat on Fridays, going to mass more frequently, and “giving something up.”
Although I haven’t observed Lent for many years, I have always thought of the season as a “stepping away” from the mayhem of life and “dialing down” some of the noise of the modern world. Something in my spirit longs for that peace and stillness in spite of my craving for the novelty of new interruptions.
I searched the expression “internet fast” yesterday and I found an interesting assortment of blogs, articles, and spa weekend packages. There was a debate on whether or not one should “give up Facebook for Lent” and there were the usual arguments about how the internet makes us relevant. It’s the same argument I’ve read about why Tee Vee makes us relevant, or “televant.” Apparently, history is being made on Tee Vee. Yep, history is being made all right, just like a Hollywood movie, but I digress.
I’m not giving up anything for Lent but I’ll thoughtfully consider any suggestions which might enhance the quality of my life here on earth.