Tag Archives: Lent

Ashes, ashes

I started today a bit disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to attend Ash Wednesday services at our church. I had a plane to catch, so it just wasn’t possible.

As for many Christians, Ash Wednesday serves as a definitive and dramatic crossover into the contemplative season of Lent. The hour-long service at our church bathes me in an almost magical blend of prayer, music and liturgy that sends me back out into the world calm and unhurried and inspired for the next 40 days.

Before heading to the airport this morning,  I went online and tried to find an Ash Wednesday service—of any denomination—in my destination city. As best I could see, none of the churches in the area had services posted. I had no time to call any of them, so I acknowledged sadly that I’d have to sit it out this year.

Just after clearing security at National Airport’s Delta terminal at 10:55 a.m., an announcement sounded over the intercom that there would be an Ash Wednesday service in the airport chapel beginning at 11:00.

I didn’t have to board my flight until 11:25, so I exited the secure area and hightailed it to the chapel, tucked behind Dunkin’ Donuts.

I was the second worshiper to arrive and the only passenger; the rest of the 14-member congregation were airport employees and crew members.

Granted, it wasn’t the hour at St. Alban’s I had hoped for. Still, we recited Psalm 51, read two verses from Hebrews, heard a bit of Mark’s Gospel and sang along to a boom box blasting out “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling.” A swift imposition of ashes, and we were out in under 15 minutes. I went back through security, where the TSA agent spotted my ashes, scanned my ID and remarked how fitting that my name is Monica Bernadette. I was at the gate five minutes before boarding.

No, it wasn’t the hour of contemplative prayer and soothing Taizé music I might have enjoyed at my home church. But considering I had already written it off, the Ash-n-Dash was an unexpected blessing.


Filed under Holidays, Travel

Stack’em high

Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday. Pancake Day. Sunset on Shrovetide. Whatever you call it—if you call it—it’s here. 

In many Christian denominations, tomorrow is the beginning of Lent, traditionally a season of fasting, prayer, reflection and a healthy measure of self-denial.

But tonight we feast. Whether attending a pancake supper in a church hall, as I will, or stumbling along Bourbon Street in one last bender, trading bare flesh for shiny plastic beads, as others will, this is our last hurrah.

The upcoming Lenten season may be for Christians, but nearly every religious faith seems to observe periods of solemnity and fasting, either preceded by or followed by fun and feasting.

For some people I know, Lent is do-over time for failed New Year’s resolutions. For others, it’s a slim-down for swimsuit season. For retailers, it’s a time for chocolate bunnies and marshmallow Peeps that have been out since February 15th to grow stale on the shelves, as Easter won’t come until April 24th.

I like Lent. In fact, this being one of the latest start dates I can remember, I am eager to get started. I don’t always give up one particular thing per se. I have a favorite daily devotional I’ll read. I’ll think twice before doing anything to excess. I’ll try to introduce more quiet into my day to listen for, well, I’m not sure.

I only today looked up “shrove” because I realized I had no idea what it meant. The first definition I saw said that it was the past tense of “shrive.” I didn’t know what that meant either. Another referred to Shrovetide, which was unfamiliar.

1. n shrove, the first day of Shrovetide.
2. n Shrove Tuesday, the last day of Shrovetide, when people traditionally eat pancakes.
3. n Shrovetide, the three days before Ash Wednesday

Shrive [Shriven, imperfect or Shrove, past tense]
1. v to hear or receive the confession of; to administer confession and absolution to
2. v to confess, and receive absolution

Shrive, shrove, shriven, whatever. Aunt Jemima and I are stepping out tonight.


Filed under All Things Wordish, Food, Holidays