Sunday, March 2, 2014

March 2: Classic Saint Marty, Lenten Vow, New Cartoon

I've been thinking about Lent, since Ash Wednesday is this week.  Usually, I try to do something spiritually and artistically challenging for the 47 days leading up to Easter.  One year, I prayed for all of the people who have hurt me or made my life difficult over the years.  Of course, there was the year where I wrote a poem a day from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.

These last couple years, I haven't been very successful with my vows.  However, I will once again make a promise in this blog about my Lenten practice.  Starting this Wednesday, I will be writing every day about something for which I am grateful.  For Lent, I am going to try to cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

That may sound easy, but I haven't been feeling very grateful about many things in my life recently.  In fact, I have serious doubts that I will be able to fulfill this promise.  It's certainly going to be a struggle, considering the fact that I have to find a new job in the next 90 days.

So, expect a lot of rainbows and unicorns during Lent, if you get my drift.  I'm going to try to remain positive in the face of all the crap that's coming my way.

Tonight, the Oscars are on.  It's one of my favorite nights of the year, and that's something for which I'm grateful.  See, I'm starting already.

Today's Classic Saint Marty comes from an Ash Wednesday in 2012.  Enjoy.

February 22, 2012:  Ash Wednesday, Life Immortal, Paczki Again

Oh cold, cold, rigid Death, set up thine altar here, and dress it with such terrors as thou hast at thy command:  for this is thy dominion!  But of the loved, revered, and honoured head, thou canst not turn one hair to thy dread purposes, or make one feature odious.  It is not that the hand is heavy and will fall down when released; it is not that the heart and pulse are still; but that the hand WAS open, generous, and true; the heart brave, warm, and tender; and the pulse a man's.  Strike, Shadow, strike!  And see his good deeds springing from the wound, to sow the world with life immortal!

Not a passage from A Christmas Carol with which many readers are familiar.  With its King James Bible language and its embodiment of Death, I thought this little excerpt would be quite an appropriate way to begin a post on Ash Wednesday.  The Ghost of the Future has brought Scrooge to his death chamber to gaze upon his neglected body.  The mini-sermon above touches upon the afterlife.  Dickens' words pretty much lay it all out:  to have life immortal, to be remembered after Death comes knocking, Scrooge must perform good deeds in his lifetime.  Otherwise, there will be no honor in his death.  There will be no person mourning his passing.

It's a terrifying little moment in the book, one of those Dickens' moments where he puts it all out there in very clear, unsubtle terms.  I can almost hear Chuck crying out like John the Baptist, "Repent, ye sinners!  For the Kingdom of God is at hand!"

Tonight, I will go to church.  I will sing hymns.  I will listen to the pastor talk about sins and death and penitence and resurrection.  I will get in line and have ashes smudged on my forehead in the shape of a cross.  And I will feel moved to change my ways, to embrace a life of "good deeds."  Ash Wednesday always does this for me.  It inspires me to try to be better than I am.  For my non-Christian disciples, think  of Ash Wednesday as a first date with a person you love.  That person puts you on your best behavior, makes you kinder, more generous.  That person makes you want to be the best you can be.  That's Ash Wednesday.  It's a first date with Jesus, in a way.  At least for me.

That's what Charles Dickens in talking about in this passage.  Being the best human being you can be, whether man or woman, Christian or Muslim, gay or straight, dog lover or cat lover, Democrat or Republican (although the Republican thing may be pushing it).

Leftover paczkis don't make you a better person, but I have my eye on one right now.  I know that Ash Wednesday is about self denial and sacrifice, but I'm talking Bavarian cream here.

Saint Marty needs some self-restraint and a big glass of cold milk.

Confessions of Saint Marty

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