Ashes to ashes

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope

T. S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday I

It’s Ash Wednesday.

People—Anglicans and Catholics mainly—are getting ashes smudged on their foreheads in recognition of the start of Lent. People are giving up vices and bad habits—caffeine, cigarettes, meat, swearing, sex—for the next forty days. That’s what Carnival is all about, after all: the merrymaking before one has to put aside meat. Carne (Lat.: meat) + levare (Lat.: to put away).

I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)

T. S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday I

I have, in my lifetime, given up a number of things. Some of them I’ll list here: candies, junk food, potato chips, alcohol, caffeine (=coffee, tea and chocolate … that was a year!!), playing computer games, swearing. Some years it’s hard, like the caffeine year, and in those years it’s rough on the people around you. Some years it’s easier, and private, a compact you make quietly between you and your god.

But I tend to prefer a different way of looking at Lent. Instead of giving up things, make a promise and keep it. Add things. Good things. Practice patience, or kindness, or generosity. Give things away. Promise to be more humane on Nassau city streets, for example. Less angry at other drivers. There is sacrifice involved in both. In giving up habits, one thinks more about why one does it. You pray more: for strength, for relief, for forgiveness.

By adding things, though, by consciously striving to be more constructive, more loving, maybe you might change the way you move through the world.

So. My Lenten fast is a fast of addition. And it’s a private one. Not for sharing. Perhaps, though, other people will see the result. Every day.

Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

T. S. Eliot, Ash Wednesday I

Featured image: Love photo created by jcomp –

2 thoughts on “Ashes to ashes

  1. We all have something to learn from your adding goodness rather than taking away bad. We can add civility, loving kindness, good graces, humane treatment of one another and patience with others’ nonsense and bad behavior — rather than vowing not to shame bad, rude drivers (mostly for not using their turn signals) or not drink or eat something that we will miss dreadfully. Can’t even imagine no chocolate. Coffee and tea, maybe. But CHOCOLATE??

    Liked by 1 person

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