It is Ash Wednesday and throughout the day and the week my friends and I will be bantering back and forth about what we intend to give up for the season of lent. The list will inevitably include more and less brave endeavors. After many years of self-discovery, I now try to keep my personal commitments, ahem, modest. Lately I have begun to think that our lenten choices are beginning to feel more and more like new year’s resolutions than spiritual exercises: quit smoking, exercise, skip dessert, drink less, eat more broccoli… And if I happen to loose a couple pounds along the way, so be it. Self control and discipline…
For some time it has been rumored that the children’s rhyme, “Ring around the Rosie,” was a creepy rhyme born during the era of the Black Plague. That may be more the stuff of legend than of history, but it also makes a little sense. For when faced when imminent and pervasive death, humans, and children in particular, have interesting ways of coping. These little mechanisms also shine a little light on why it is such good news to have an Ash Wednesday to take pervasive death and darkness and turn it on its head.