Even if you do not live in an area that celebrates Mardi Gras, most of us have at least heard of it. For some, it is a “bucket list” item to visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras where it is an entire season beginning in January and running through “Fat Tuesday.” Yesterday, the revelry of Mardi Gras faded into the reverence of Lent marked by Ash Wednesday. The gluttony of Fat Tuesday gave way to the fasting of the Lenten season. The seduction of Carnival conceded to the sacrifice of Lent.
Just as the Mardi Gras season is brimming with rituals and symbolism, the Lenten season is as well. On Ash Wednesday, heads that just the day before donned elaborate masks and flamboyant headdresses now bear ashen crosses. Millions of people observe the rituals of their faith by “giving up” something (meat, sugar, chocolate, beer, wine, smoking, etc.).
In so many ways, the things that we choose to give up during Lent – though well-intentioned – miss the mark.