Arizona isn’t really known for their Mardi Gras celebrations but in recent years I keep thinking that it would be fun to join in on the fun. It clearly didn’t happen this year, maybe next time.
I did some research, in French, “Mardi Gras” literally means “Fat Tuesday.” It falls on the day before Ash Wednesday, the last day before Lent, a 40-day season of prayer and fasting observed by the Roman Catholic Church (and many other Christian denominations) which ends on Easter Sunday. The celebration period varies between countries and cultures, for some it is limited to the one day prior to Ash Wednesday, or the three days leading up to Ash Wednesday, or the period from Epiphany through Ash Wednesday. It was a chance for people to celebrate before the restrictions of the Lenten Season began.
I was raised Catholic and gave up numerous things for Lent between the ages of six and twenty six, all twenty years with no celebration leading up to Ash Wednesday. Nearly every year that I was in elementary school, my mother would somehow need to go to the grocery store or the bank on Ash Wednesday so at least one non-Catholic person could point out that I had “some dirt” on my forehead. Yeah, what part of ASH Wednesday are you having trouble with?
In the last fifteen years, I have moved away from the church. It had become increasingly obvious to me in recent years that the personal and political agendas of the leaders of the church had become more important than the original teachings and canon of Jesus. There are several traditions and teachings that never made any sense to me and believing some of the more mystical concepts had escaped me. While the church clung to outdated traditions made by men of the middle ages, they allowed and covered up crimes by their own clergy.
Now, my belief system falls between Wicca, Druids and Jedi Knights. Sometimes I believe I can feel the Force, the basic energy field created by all living things, that surrounds and penetrates living beings and binds the galaxy together. At the same time I believe in the power of the Earth and nature. I take all of the good parts of Christianity, like being accepting of all people and treating others with kindness. I guess I am kind of a new age hippie.