Did you celebrate Mardi Gras and/or Ash Wednesday this week? How?
Yes, we did -- Mardi Gras is Shrove Tuesday in this community, the sidespeople (ushers) are the team in charge of producing pancakes and sausages and syrup (and coffee and tea and juice) at supper time. Good turn-out this year, and good food. Folks get out and collect some of the house-bound and fetch them in. And one of our Junior Mothers-in-Zion undertook to provide a children's activity. I love, love, love, volunteers who say, "Why don't we..." and then take FULL responsibility for what they're suggesting. So the kids, about a dozen, made half-masks, Mardi Gras style, and had a ball doing it. Big Props to our Mask Lady.
Then on Ash Wednesday -- ashes at 7:30 a.m. and p.m. Seven of us at the early service, dark when we came in, dawn when we came out. The seven included a Mom and three kids, kids bearing juice-boxes and half-eaten toast (I intuited an "Oh, go get in the car! now!" moment). They came up for ashes, very decorously, and the little boy solemnly and intently watched what I was doing with the result that when I touched his forehead his big blue eyes were completely crossed...
About 35 in the evening, including choir. Nice hymns, nice anthem, and a minimal homily.
2. What was your most memorable Mardi Gras/Ash Wednesday/Lent?
I suppose -- it was my first Shrove Tuesday here and in the middle of an afternoon meeting upstairs there was a bang like the clap of creation...it felt as though Most Holy and Undivided had risen up off the base plates and then sat down again. For a moment I thought, "Oh...something fell over downstairs..." and then I thought, "THAT was an EXPLOSION...and I'm the Rector...and I have to go downstairs and see what blew up." When I got down to the big kitchen I found two of the ushers who had come in to begin the cooking for supper. One had his face under the cold tap. The other was standing looking stunned. I discovered they had turned on the gas in one of the ovens without lighting it immediately...and when they opened the oven door, the accumulated gas met the pilot lights atop the stove. Kaboom, as it were. The man who opened the oven door lost his eyebrows and was a bit pink in the face but that was all the harm.
There was a tail-piece, though. The next morning at the early service his wife appeared to read Scripture, having volunteered to do so. When it was clear that we two were the entire congregation, she berated me for having the service at all. Trying to be pastoral DESPITE EVERYTHING, I asked after her husband. "He's fine, why wouldn't he be?" And then I knew he hadn't told her. So I was in trouble again, for blowing his cover.
Memorable, I guess, would cover it pretty well.
3. Did you/your church/your family celebrate Lent as a child? If not, when and how did you discover it?
No, we didn't mark Lent and I remember expressing great scorn for Roman Catholic schoolmates who did. Came to Lent when I came to Anglicanism in my university years.
4. Are you more in the give-up camp, or the take-on camp, or somewhere in between?
Somewhere in between. Or rather, in both. The Via Media oscillates between being the white line down the middle, and being both ditches at once, as we know.
5. How do you plan to keep Lent this year?
This year I am working on IRL. Talking to people LIVE every day. Looking people in the eyes. And following the "Love Life Live Lent" guidelines and suggestions -- I've accessed them on Facebook.
I'd like to give up falling asleep on the couch with the TV on every evening...pray for me!