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Mardi Gras - Fat Tuesday is Fun Because it Happens at Lent
Heart and Mind SERIES
I have a blonde Chihuahua and a tiger cat. On a sunny morning, they sit on the porch as I sip coffee and ponder. I note how committed their tongues are to scouring, moistening and soothing. It is as if they know it's spring cleaning time. The Cleaning Lady is my term for the action of the Divine when it is bringing unity, antiseptic treatment, and plain old cleanliness to our lives.
These animals pull their tongues along their coats with a rhythmic sweeping action. It is as if they are humming to the same tune. When they pause, the look at each other. They both know what they are doing. Then they begin again on a new part of their body. The Cleaning Lady has programmed inside these creatures of God to keep their marvelous coats sparkling. You won't see these animals walking around with the scourge of mud, or dust or scabs for very long. This is part of their purpose.
And yet I.
I must tell myself to scour and purge. Being a kind of natural slob, my loved ones have been good teachers of myself. Because humans must build character, they end up learning, programming, studying and appreciating the true value of cleaning the Outside, and philosophy and other bodies of thought tell us - cleaning the Inside!
The Pain and Suffering of Resisting the Cleaning Lady's Urgings
Nature tells us that it is a shame to us to be dirty and stinky. Women are God's Personal Messengers to those who "pisseth against the wall" (boys and men). Boys seem to have to be taught what a good scrubbing is, what a shower means, what a long hot bath means.
When a woman makes a funny face and points to our diapers, a profound message gets hard wired to the boy. "Mommy likes things that are clean. And before she made that face, I did not know what "clean" was.!"
Clean is Basic. Clean comes from the Soul. Clean goes to the Soul. Purging feels vigorous and deep. At Winter's end, a kind of universal urge rises up within us to pick up, sweep, move stuff around, through the garbage away, and call things garbage that used to be just "storage".
The Days of Unleavened Bread
One could say that the Jewish festival about the Exodus from Egypt is not a winter story at all, but a symbol of the cleanliness that comes with moving; in fact, one could say it is about the efficiency of designating property so that we can move quickly on the run. Ironically though, the Days of Unleavened Bread and Passover are "scheduled" in the early Spring. Messages that coincide are helpful to us all.
Many of the laws of the Pentateuch had to do with cleansing and the separation of human waste. Without going through the immense detail, the appreciation for ablutions in religious worship actually showed that early religious purification could also simply be called the idea that "ablutions" led to cleanliness.
The Solar Calendar and the Lunar Calendar tend to Coincide at this Time
However holidays and holy days become determined - solar or lunar, they still isolate and measure the passage of the days and the weeks of the year. The Lunar calendar of the Jewish people is more closely allied to the agrarian patterns of planting and harvesting. Probably the coming together happens most naturally at the crucifixion of Jesus, Ishtar was their for the early Christians and Old Romans to make a new thing called: Easter and its close proximity to Passover makes the story happen, just like there were mutual messages and symbols of old being played out as this new Prophet came along.
What are you going to give up for Lent?
Mardi Gras, "Fat Tuesday" used to have more meaning than just a ticket to the oblivion of alcohol and self indulgence. Why? Because Catholics used to really give up a lot for 40 days. They were truly going to "suffer". The heavy hand of religion has lessened its weight over the modern believer and so now it is mostly the PARTY that is left. Now its a carnal feast sitting out there at the end of winter, and the 40 days of "cleaning" the self and suffering loss have lost their meaning. I speak not for Catholics, but for the average American who might have wondered at some time in their past. When Easter comes along it truly pictures the bursting forth of the glowing sun of Aries from the former quiet gloom of Pisces.
The Spring Cleaning that goes Beyond the Skin
The next two paragraphs are elegant expressions of the totality of the human mind and being and how the concept of cleanliness can go beyond mere ablutions.
"While you're cleaning out closets and sweeping under the furniture, think about this: Spring cleaning, while worth the effort, will only last for a season, but spiritual cleansing could have an eternal influence. So don't just dust behind those book shelves, dust off that favorite Bible and get ready for a spiritual spring cleaning.
Spiritual cleansing requires deep cleaning -- it is housekeeping that goes beyond what others see and hear. It's a cleansing from within -- inside and out. As your heart gets clean, your language should follow. This is not just talking about bad language, but also negative talk and pessimistic thoughts that contradict the Word of God and faith. This includes the challenge to stop complaining."
The most ancient richest Roman could be a highly clean foul human being, soaked with self indulgence and wanton ways, And yet, civilization in all of its complexity still teaches us about the advantages of a clean environment. The concept of a "clean heart" is not just Christian, it is an idea that transfers itself to many belief systems.
It behooves those who desire a new way of seeing and feeling and acting, whatever their system is, to envision the "Cleaning Lady" of our lives and hold on to her apron springs and truly follow her around the House of our Heart and the Soul's Quiet Darker Rooms and see what we can all accomplish at this time of the year, as we look toward warmer, sunnier days and suns that rise higher in the sky, looking toward the revitalization of our Beings.