Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ashes to Ashes

Today, Ash Wednesday, I sat through the evening Mass thinking I really should figure out what religion I am.

Then again, I thought, I've gone this long, so what exactly is the hurry?

I love the unchanging nature of the Christian liturgical year. I also love the ritual of having ashes rubbed on my forehead, reminding me of the facts: that I came from dust and to dust I shall return. (Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.)

I like the Season of Lent (and the attendant concept of denial, fasting and spiritual spring-cleaning) to properly prepare for the feast, happiness and celebrations that late spring and summer often bring, with so many weddings and graduations and vacations and religious holidays. We can't have one without the other. Our culture attempts to deny us the truth of Lent and deferred gratification, since modern consumerist capitalism demands it. We are constantly exhorted to buy and consume more and more STUFF. The state of "perpetual Easter" (lots of hoopla) is forced on us... then everyone wonders why everything is so emotionally out of whack. Mass depression has been the mass result of our estrangement from the yearly-rhythms of the ages.

These are the religious traditions I come from, understand and know best. On some level, revisiting them is always like visiting home. For those of us old enough to have lost our families and childhood homes, the church becomes the default home. This tends to be true whether we want it to be true or not. It just is.

Hope you had a happy Ash Wednesday!


Ashes to Ashes - David Bowie


bint alshamsa said...

Daisy, I've thought about that more times than I can count. What religion am I? I do believe in the Creator. I'm not quite such a believer in all of the stuff that folks say ABOUT the Creator. Lent is an important time around our house. It's a time of getting our lives back on track, back to what's really important, sloughing off all of the material and spiritual junk that keeps us from living meaningful lives.

I've never thought about our society as being in a state of "perpetual Easter", but I think that's exactly right. The constant indulgence is like eating candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It can't do anything but make us sick. I, personally, need the feeling of cycling. It helps me judge how much progress I have or have not made as time passes.

Despite my frustration with people who wear their religion as some sort of garb that makes them holier than everyone else, I do still feel the pull of certain traditions and rituals. I mean, how could I not? No matter what, there is a certain kind of comfort that I can only get from those scriptures that I learned as a child.

May this Lenten season help us both to find and remain on the path that works best for us.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Thank you for such a wonderful and thoughtful comment, Bint. :) (thank you for your blessings also, and you too!)

Jim said...

"I've never thought about our society as being in a state of "perpetual Easter", but I think that's exactly right."

BaS, very good point. Easter is eternal but our observance should not be constant unitl we are perfect. BTW love the name, Sunshine!

I love the rituals too. Ritual is the basis of good conduct.

DDH, The rituals are not at odds with Buddhism. In fact for me Buddhism is the corrective for a lot of what is wrong in Christianity - the sex negativism, the dripping, dripping misogyny, the essentialist labyrinth of dogmas that contradict each other - I used to think thius stuff was Abrhamic, the decaying cultural afterbirth of the origins of the faith, but I did more reading and all that crap is Helenistic, even in Judaism and thus in Islam.

Ancient history - years ago over at FC you got into it over your childhood experiences of misogyny in Catholicism. That set off a long process in me - the misandry I was insisting you see did not contradict the misogyny you were citing. The tradtion is lousy with both of them; they are not polar opposites that cannot exist in the presence of each other.

I don't know if this interests you any more, but here are some articles you might enjoy:

JoJo said...

I'm a recovering Catholic myself, and I prefer the Wiccan Craft and pagan beliefs to Christian ones. But even when I was a kid, once I finished catechism instruction, I was a 'Christmas Catholic'. My dad would go every Sunday or Sat. night Mass, but my mom and I never went. I didn't even observe Ash Wednesday till I was at St. Josephs College in Maine. That was the first time I received the ashes on my forehead.

Great Bowie song. I put it on a mix tape after Space Oddity.

Lena said...

What a clever video choice (and one of my favourites) for the time of year!