This morning I paused to hear birds sing and to see them dive through fir branches. Today seemed to have some special significance, but I didn't remember why until I heard the news on the radio. If the Marde Gras parades had been yesterday then today was Ash Wednesday.
In a Texas border town parish dominated by foreign born Irish (FBI) priests and nuns, Ash Wednesday was an especially solemn and joyless affair, and we small children were commanded to be extra penitent, ungrateful wretches that we were. At mass, we received thumbsized smudges of ash upon our forehead to remind us to be repentant all day .
Across the border though, the mood was festive in the plaza, and the Mexican children were dressed in costumes and allowed by their indulgent and loving parents to eat un-Lenten candy treats, washed down with non-sacred Coca Colas. The foreheads of the Mexicans displayed a stylish cross.
`Ash-Wednesday', by T S Eliot:
"Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice "