Dust to Dust

I literally just put away the last of my Christmas stuff, that being my kitchen towels with pictures of Santa Claus and The First Noel stamped onto the cloth. Both had gotten buried under other kitchen towels. And now I’m looking Ash Wednesday right smack in the eye. Time flies.

Sunday was our annual family Mardi Gras celebration. This year, Erik and Josey hosted, and the clan celebrated with a great deal of zest, as usual. Erik made his famous gumbo for the first time in a number of years. While the red beans and rice that is my offering is pretty simple to make (as long as I remember to soak the beans overnight), the gumbo takes a bit of finesse. I have never made gumbo, but the trick is apparently in the roux. It has to cook until it is just the perfect color of brown. Any lighter and it hasn’t the necessary flavor. Any darker, and it tastes burnt. My sister Bec told me that the night before, she and her family had been at a party, where Erik brought out his phone to show her the photo he had taken of his perfect roux. What can I say? Some people show off pictures of their children….

Today is the day that Bill has surgery on his face to remove cancerous basal cells. I say that as though I know what basal cells are. I know only about basil that you put in spaghetti sauce. The surgery should be simple, not even requiring any anesthesia beyond a local. Heck, football players get more than that when they twist an ankle and then go back in to play. But it’s a practical way to begin the Lenten season. Though the surgery is not serious and the doctor will certainly remove all the naughty cells, it reminds us that we are dust, and to dust we will return.

A few weeks ago, I started thinking about what sacrifice I should make for Lent. Voila! I shouted out to myself in the car in which I was, thankfully, alone. I will give up cussing. And then I laughed at myself, being fully aware that I didn’t really need to wait until Lent to give up cussing. My sister Jen told me that she did the same thing one year for Lent. The problem was, while she didn’t cuss out loud, she would cuss in her mind. I was reminded of the liturgical story in which we are told that having lustful thoughts is as bad as actually acting out your lust. Personally, I don’t agree with that, but Jesus didn’t ask my advice.

At any rate, starting Wednesday, we are looking at 40 days and 40 nights of coming to grips that we are human, and that God sent his Son to save us. Oh, and eating fish on Fridays.