With 2 sermons to write, and another scary diocesan form to be completed, you can expect blog posts to proliferate in the next few hours...and so it is that I come to be writing a Friday Five on the day itself.
This week Mother Laura asks
1. Did you celebrate Mardi Gras and/or Ash Wednesday this week? How?
Well - I've blogged most of this already....Shrove Tuesday always feels rather pallid when I read about some of the Mardi Gras traditions to be enjoyed in the States...What, for example, are Kingcakes? and what do Mardi Gras beads actually look like? But on Tuesday I consumed pancakes at the parish party, then consumed more pancakes at home with the kids...I also consumed them with the Youth Group on Sunday - so in theory there should be no eggs left anywhere in Charlton Kings. Somehow, this seems unlikely - but we tried! Ash Wednesday was pretty intense - but that suits me. I like to know Lent has arrived - and the sack-cloth screen that hides the reredos behind the High Altar at St M's shouts LENT loud and clear.
2. What was your most memorable Mardi Gras/Ash Wednesday/Lent?
I guess it was my first year in London, when I'd not long become part of the choir and the wider community of St John the Divine, Kennington. There they did liturgy with a passion and devotion I had never encountered before...They also partied with wild abandon, and the Shrove Tuesday pancake party plus manic entertainment saw us all crawling home through the S London streets well after "decent Christian people" should be tucked up in their beds. That would have been fine, except that I was due to sing the high solo part of the Allegri Miserere for the Ash Wednesday Eucharist. Couple a night of indulgence with a seasonal cold, and it seemed likely that there would be a whole lot of nothing emerging from my throat when I attempted those top C's. Except that a pro singer friend produced a foul tasting but miraculous elixir that I've never found since....It kind of burned the yuk out of my throat for the space of 2 or 3 hours, so that I could do the bizz with Allegri. I'll never forget standing at the back of the church, waiting to come in and wondering whether this "miracle cure" would work or not. I can't remember much about my penitence, though - it got lost in the joyful relief!
3. Did you/your church/your family celebrate Lent as a child? If not, when and how did you discover it?
It was around in the landscape of our family life, but only in a very low key way....It became more noticeable when I was in the 6th form at Eastbourne, and John Walker, the Director of Music, introduced me to all the wonderful a capella motets that belong to this season. Suddenly, Lent meant no organ for most of the choir items in worship...it felt bare, exposed but desperately important....which is, I guess, a pretty good hint as to how Lent should feel. "Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts..." SJDK built on these foundations....it was as a singer, after all, that worship first began to make sense to me
4. Are you more in the give-up camp, or the take-on camp, or somewhere in between?
I always try to do far too much of both...Lent is another attempt at the failed resolutions of January...But I know full well that this isn't a helpful approach, so I'm trying hard to be both focussed and realistic. I've still got a long way to go with this.
5. How do you plan to keep Lent this year?
Using the Love Life Live Lent materials, blogging them, and trying to read only those books which I "know to be useful or believe to be beautiful" (thanks, William Morris). The trashy detective fiction must wait till Easter now. Oh, and I'm not drinking any alcohol at home, to support LCM, who gives it up every year (but allows himself Sundays, as this makes the maths work and the days add up to 40). I'm also shunning chocolate, wherever I encounter it - and yes, Sundays are quite definitely part of that process for me, at least.