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Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Leonard Earl Johnson (photo credit Frank Parsley) covered Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005), and the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for ConsumerAffairs.com. He is a contributor to Gambit Weekly, New Orleans Magazine, SCAT, Baton Rouge Advocate, Advocate Magazine, The Times-Picayune, Country Roads Magazine, Palm Springs Newswire and the anthologies: FRENCH QUARTER FICTION (Light of New Orleans Publishing), LOUISIANA IN WORDS (Pelican Publishing), LIFE IN THE WAKE (NOLAfuges.com), and more. Johnson is a former Merchant Seaman, and columnist at Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans; and African-American Village. Attended Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship at Piney Point, Maryland. Winner of the Press Club of New Orleans Award for Excellence, 1991, and given the Key to The City and a Certificate of Appreciation from the New Orleans City Council for a Gambit Weekly story on murder in the French Quarter.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Ash Wednesday and the 40 Days of Lent / March 2019

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request last month's column
L. E. J.'s acclaimed 

Mardi Gras Glossary February 2019

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LEJ's Louisiana,
a monthly e-column at www.LEJ.org 

Yours Truly in a Swamp

by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
Archives: www.LEJ.org

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March 2019

Ash Wednesday and the Forty Days of Lent 

BY  Leonard Earl Johnson 

© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, All Rights Reserved

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L. E. J. as the late Ernie K-Doe

Yours Truly in a Swamp


Leonard Earl Johnson

"Ain't nothing in the world time and money won't cure." 
~ Ernie K-Doe, New Orleans Musician and Emperor of The World 
(February 22, 1933 – July 5, 2001)

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Ash Wednesday 
and the Forty Days of Lent

by Leonard Earl Johnson

On Ash Wednesday (March 6), all over Louisiana, Carnival lifted its joyous mantle, leaving Lent's ashen smudge in its place. 

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, putting The Sign of The Cross on their foreheads, with thumbs dipped in the ashes of last year's Palm Sunday palms. 

Outside, spirited rains wash The City.  

Inside, though I have doubts about theological things, 
I have none whatsoever about this ceremony, 
to ashes I am returning. 

Lent is the strangest holiday in all the Christian calendar.  It advances everything ~ suffering stuff ~ the King Cake Baby Jesus opposes, yet it is the longest holiday of the faith.  Should you need a reason to be suspicious of any religion's temporal powers consider this fact: Carnival's pleasurable time shrinks by measure of an inaccurate 
Papal Calendar.
by those same inaccurate calculations is codified into Canon Law so as to never lose one penitent day of suffering.

"In this order of priority we find sad Truths,"

L. A. Norma.

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Clearing the Liturgical Air
Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is the last day of Carnival's ever-changing season of joy. Next day, Ash Wednesday, is the first day of Lent's never-changing season of suffering.

"The Gregorian Calendar, 
by which we live today and measure all this, is not too accurate,
" L. A. Norma explains to a bewildered tourist sharing our pedicab, "what with the date of Easter changing with the moon!"

Easter marks the end of Lent. It is also a ceremony welcoming Spring. Borrowed from religions that came before Christianity.  It may be the oldest human celebration, and it is calculated (or miscalculated), again by Canon Law, with instruments created with faith in suffering and suspicion of pleasure.

Suffering is not to be monkeyed with in these 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 good Lent this year, with sunny mornings and a warm place in the kitchen to read Internet newspapers and sip coffee. The live oaks outside our dormer windows are a soft young green. Live oaks don't dump their 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 coastal Louisiana, and we old alligators lie on the banks in whatever sun we can find dreaming of Easter baskets and Spring.

(A lesser version of this story first appeared in 2004)

Copyright, 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson
all rights reserved

For more L. E. J.'s Yours Truly in a Swamp go to 
w w w . L E J . o r g

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© 2019, Leonard Earl Johnson, 
All Rights Reserved.

Coming Next Month!
April 2019's column:

with Marjorie Lawrence"


If you wish to read any month's column go to www.LEJ.org anytime. 
They are posted on the first of each month and polished for the next few years.

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 LEJ's Louisiana, Yours Truly in a Swamp
is a monthly e-column @ www.LEJ.org,
and periodically at 
Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans,
publication of the

It is written by Leonard Earl Johnson
of Lafayette and New Orleans, Louisiana
Archives: www.LEJ.org

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© 2019 Leonard Earl Johnson, 

All Rights Reserved.
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