Today, Shrove Tuesday, is an important inflection point in the epic, a day of consideration and absolution, girding the loins for the 40 Lenten days until Easter.
As happens every once in a while, my birthday falls on Easter Monday this year, meaning I’ve 40 days left until I cross over in the grand select list from “45-54” to “55-64,” and so this Lenten season presents me with a handy opportunity for personal reflection, alongside my Christian neighbours. Oliver asked the family mailing list what we’re giving up this year; I said “confusion,” in jest, but, on reflection, perhaps not such a bad choice.
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, and, like all else, COVID requires adaptation; at St. Paul’s they’re giving out “bubble ashes”:
The Ash Wednesday service will not include the individual imposition of ashes. Instead, we will impost the ashes on a symbol of the community and have individual cups of ashes available for group bubbles. These bubble ashes can be used in a variety of ways: they may be imposed on the foreheads of members of your bubble; they can be sprinkles in a garden or on a house plant; or, well, we don’t know, please let us know if you’ve thought of a creative way of using the ashes.
That’s delightful, and a demonstration that rituals need not be rigid in their interpretation as long as the spirit is hewed to.