Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Shake Your Ashes

It’s Ash Wednesday in the Christian church: “Your must repent of your sins. If you have already repented, ignore this notice.”

So, here we are at the start of forty days of what we hope will be a time of repentance, reforming our lives, a winter period of self-denial.

Or, as Omar Khayyam put it so well in his Rubaiyat:
“Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of Spring
The Winter Garment of Repentance fling:
The Bird of Time has but a little way
To fly – and Lo! The Bird is on the Wing.”

In other words, to misquote Auntie Mame, “We need a little Easter, right this very moment." Ash Wednesday starts off very piously: we get ashes on our foreheads, much as the ancient Israelites did (except they had ashes dumped over their heads and covered their cattle with them, occasionally sitting on dung heaps).

Then the novelty wears off about the first Monday. The Ash Wednesday fast was ok; we felt like martyrs. The first Friday abstaining from meat also went fine, as mac & cheese go down well. But then things can get a little weary.

But if we hang in there, we’ll feel better at the other end.


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