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~ Ernie K-Doe, 1936 - 2001
New Orleans Musician and Self-Proclaimed Emperor of The World
From Lent to Easter
On Ash Wednesday all over Louisiana, Carnival lifted its joyous mantle leaving Lent's ashen smudge in its place.
In cathedrals and parish churches, mission altars and heathen households, the Sacrament of Death was being celebrated.
At New Orleans Saint Louis Cathedral, business suits stood cheek-by-jowl with crimson capes and smeared-lipstick ladies awaiting priests dressed in the Vestments of Sorrow, applying smears of The Cross to their foreheads. With thumbs dipped in the ashes of last year's Palm Sunday palms. Outside, rain washed The City. I have many doubts about theological things, but none whatsoever about this ceremony. To ashes we shall return.
attended six a.m. mass at the
Cathedral to welcome Lent,
and then caught the nine a.m. Amtrak train called the Sunset Limited,
out of Town.
Could ashen Lent have more fitting a morning's metaphor than that?
Lent is the longest holiday in all the Christian calendar. Should you need reason to be suspicious of religion's political powers, consider that. Carnival's pleasurable length shortens by measure of the ill-conceived Gregorian Calender. But Church law prevents this happening to Lent's suffering by measure of Canon law hocus pocus.
Like traveling Governor Bobbie Jindal's
many Potemkin budgets, L. A. Norma tells some altar boys discussing the weight of this year's Mardi Gras garbage.
Louisiana State House
Governor's private lift
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Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is the last day
of Carnival's ever-changing length.
Next day is Ash Wednesday, the
first day of Lent's forty never-changing days of suffering.
The Catholic Calendar, by which we measure all this, is not accurate, what with the date of Easter changing with the moon! A matter, you may recall, Galileo later tried, without success, to clarify for his Pope, successor to Peter's Throne. And keeper of Heavens's Keys and the temporal clock.
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Easter, the end of Lent, is also a ceremony about Spring. Borrowed from religions that came before Christianity. It maybe the oldest human celebration and it is calculated (or miscalculated) by Canon law, with instruments created with faith in suffering and suspicion of pleasure.
Suffering is not to be monkeyed with by theological calculations. Carnival's pleasures, however, are reducible by God (or His agents with their inaccurate stopwatches).
Lenten fasting repairs Winter's damage and Carnival's excess, and prepares us for Spring's rebirth. Like the jazz man says,
"Blow the roof off the sucker ..."
It has been a long cold Lent, but with sunny mornings and a warm place in the kitchen to read Internet Newspapers and sip coffee. Spring is here this morning, and the live oaks outside our dormer windows are budding into a soft young green.
Live oaks are ever green. They don't dump their old leaves till Spring's new buds arrive (as followers of JFK conspiracies know). Then they change from old dark green to young soft green almost overnight. Today soft-green rules the Great Mother Swamp, and old alligators lie on the banks in whatever sun we can find dreaming of Easter baskets, Spring and ashes.
(A version of this story first appeared in 2004)
Copyright, 2015, Leonard Earl Johnson
Your monthly e-mail notice may not come. New Yahoo's mail system is too cumbersome to continue using. Our mailings can not be done one-at-a-time. We have many thousands of e-readers. Too many, it seems, to keep getting free-mail from Yahoo, and we are not able to pay for the pay-mail system. So there.
You may not receive a monthly notice for YOURS TRULY IN A SWAMP,
until / unless I figure out how to set up a new freemail system.
(Don't hold your breath. I am a storyteller, not a computer-pinball gamer). Contact me if you want on the list - that may get e-mailed.
If you wish to read each month's story please go any time to www.LEJ.org
(They are posted newly on the first of each month and polished for the next few weeks.)
Hope you do, I love talking with you,
Leonard Earl Johnson,
Columnist to the elderly and early weary.
© 2015, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved.
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