LEJ's Blog

My Photo
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.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

The Day After Mardi Gras, Ash Wed., March 2020

Photo credit       Janis Turk

"There were so few gun incidents this year 
we had to resort to running over viewers and falling off floats!"
~ pedicab driver to tourists
 *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  * 

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

~  *  ~   ~  *  ~   ~  *  ~

March 2020

The Day After Mardi Gras

Ash Wednesday 

and the Forty Days of Lent 

BY  Leonard Earl Johnson 

© 2020, Leonard Earl Johnson, 

All Rights Reserved

~ * ~    ~ * ~    ~ * ~

On Ash Wednesday (February 26), all over Louisiana, Carnival lifted its joyous mantle, leaving Lent's ashen smudge in its place. 

At Saint Louis Cathedral, New Orleans' business suits stood
cheek-by-jowl with crimson capes and smeared-lipstick ladies awaiting priests dressed in the Vestments of Sorrow, smearing The Sign of The Cross on the celebrant's forehead with thumbs dipped in the ashes of last year's Palm Sunday Palms. 


Zamboni-like street sweepers wash
 The City.  


 we harbor doubts about theological ceremonies, 
but none whatsoever about this ceremony. 
To ashes we are returning. 

Banana Tree
Photo credit: Deb Kohler 
Lent is the strangest holiday in all the Christian calendar.  It celebrates for forty days everything ~ suffering stuff ~ the King Cake's Baby Jesus grew up opposing.  Yet it is the longest holiday of the faith.  

Should you need a reason to be suspicious of evangelical religion's temporal powers consider this fact: Carnival's pleasurable time shrinks by measure of the inaccurate 

Pope Gregorian Calendar.  So as to accommodate Lent.
Lent ~ by those same inaccurate calculations is codified into Canon Law to never lose one penitent day of suffering.

"In such order we find sad Truths,"

L. A. Norma.



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

"The Gregorian Calendar
," L. A. Norma explains to a bewildered tourist sharing our pedicab, 

"What with Easter changing with the moon, is none too accurate!  

"For instance, 
take leap year!" 


Easter Sunday marks Lent's end, 
and is also a ceremony to welcome Spring.
  It was borrowed by the marauding legions of Rome, from religions they happened upon that had come along long before Christianity went on the road.  

It may be the oldest human celebration, and it is calculated (or miscalculated) into Canon Law, with instruments created from 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 agent's with their inaccurate stopwatches).

Lenten fasting repairs Winter's damage and Carnival's excess, and prepares us for Spring's rebirth. 

Like the bean sprout and the jazz man say:

"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, 2020, 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

*    *    *
© 2020, Leonard Earl Johnson, 
All Rights Reserved.

Photo credit, Mark Konikoff

Coming next month 
April 2020


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.

~   ~   ~
 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

* * * * * * * * * * * * * 

© 2020 Leonard Earl Johnson, 
All Rights Reserved.
~  *  ~      ~  *  ~      ~  *  ~