Memento, homo … quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.
Remember man, you are dust and to dust you will return. Genesis 3:19
Ash Monday, Ash Wednesday, Eastern Church, Western Church, Catholics, Protestants. . . All in all, a whole lot of us will be receiving ashes this week, reminding us of our temporal and tenuous existence as the season of Lent begins.
It’s a beautiful thing, really, for so many people to be pondering their existence, even for a few moments, in the course of a single day.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the human race could do that? Just one day! Just once? From the Americas to Europe, from the Far East to the islands and then Down Under, from the Middle East to Africa, and everywhere in between. . .
Great waves of people, facing their own humanity, recognizing the impermanence and uncertainty of life, acknowledging their mistakes, crying out in anguish, falling on their knees. . .
Recalling every little offense and every great one, doubling over, ashamed, heartbroken. . .
Crying. The whole world crying, all people together, yet each one separately.
I am sorry for the hurt I have caused, for the damage I’ve done, for the hate that I hold. I am sorry for the evil I have wished upon those I know and don’t know.
I am sorry.
Then somewhere, deep inside each and every person kneeling, cleansed by tears, in every person prostrate on the ground, a spark ignites, a spark of hope.
It is but a tiny flame in the abyss of despair, sorrow, remorse. It is a light no person could place there; yet it is in all of us.
It is the light of God, the light of Love, and
It is much brighter when it is shared.
"Peace begins with a smile." -- Mother Teresa
It’s so great to discover a beautiful, interesting, multi-faceted blog with the bonus of wonderful recipes. Sara Rosso seriously delivers in her blog Ms. Adventures in Italy. I just finished reading one of her older posts “On Open Doors” and was mesmerized. She writes beautifully and shares fantastic photos of her travels and her food.
Ms. Rosso lived in Italy for thirteen years and only just returned to California in 2016. While in Italy, she founded “World Nutella Day,” amongst other things. The idea was well-received globally; this past February 5 marked its ninth year. In 2015, she transferred the duties to Ferrero, the makers of Nutella, but it’s Sara we have to thank for such an enjoyable observation to begin with. Talk about crossing cultures!
Sometimes she features recipes she likes that aren’t her own, really good ones, but her website also boasts many of her own wonderful creations or versions of truly international fare.
She has another website, When I Have Time, with tips about technology and starting up a business and really about life in general.
In the meantime, while we still have winter squash in season, why not give her Butternut Squash Hummous a try?
Happy Valentine’s Day! I thought to share with you one of my favorite poems. It’s an old one – you’ll recognize it – and it’s just so beautiful.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee with the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from phrase.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints – I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose,
I shall but love the better after death.
-- Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sonnets from the Portuguese
Why, what’s the matter,
That you have such a February face,
So full of frost, of storm, and cloudiness?
It seems that in much of the western hemisphere, February is an unpopular month. It’s deep winter, one of the coldest months, and apparently bleak by many standards.
I happen to like it. It's a month of football and rodeos, Punxsutawney Phil and Mardi Gras. You don't have to be able to ski down the blacks or even down the bunny slope. It doesn't matter if it's mild or freezing outside. There's plenty in February for everyone.
But why do we call it February? Not everyone does, obviously, but variations of Februarius are used in many countries.
We got it from the Romans, of course. They were everywhere, dispersing their customs and their language far and wide. January and February were the last two months added to the Julian calendar. February was named because it fell during the time of year that the Romans did a Spring cleaning of sorts. It was a purification ritual called Februa, certainly pre-Christian, which I find interesting. Lent, a time of penance and purification for many Christians, most often begins in February. This was not one of those convenient scenarios where a Christian occasion replaced a pagan one. Februa fell on the same day every year. Lent’s timing depends upon Easter’s, which depends upon when the spring equinox falls. Purification, februum, is clearly an ongoing process.
There are lots of saints and Christian holidays in February, to name a few:
February 1 – St. Brigid of Kildare, patron saint of Ireland
February 2 – Candlemas or Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple
February 9 – Feast of St. Maron, father of Maronite Catholics
February 14 – Saint Valentine’s Day
February 27 – Great Lent begins, Eastern Rite churches
February 28 – Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras
March 1 – Ash Wednesday
The word “shrove” comes from “shrive”, which denotes absolution. Traditionally, Shrove Tuesday is a day to be shriven or absolved of sins, a day of cleansing in preparation of Lent. In many places, the cleansing part has become the focal point, most notably when the day is called Mardi Gras. Isn’t it amazing how the cleaning out of pantries in preparation for Lent turned into a day (or weekend) of feasts and carnaval?
Before I close, I confess to one and all that I am a tree-hugger. I have, in fact, hugged lots of trees. I love them. I mention this because in the Jewish calender, there is a holiday, Tu B’Shevat that is the New Year for Trees. On this day, it is customary to eat fruit, especially to eat of the “seven species” mentioned in Deuteronomy 8:8 -- wheat, barley, grapes (vines), figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates (honey from dates). Some of the faithful try tasting a new fruit on this day, others might plant a tree. It is a day of blessing the trees and thanking God for His goodness.
a monastery garden in Lebanon
Surely, the past, present, and future connect in this miraculous state we call life. In this light, history and all human experience are ever-present. Wouldn't it be nice, then, if we could enjoy each other, if we could appreciate and celebrate our differences? Let us love! Let us have fun. Let us toast each other and wish each other well. Now, in our awareness, is the time to be happy, to do our best, to live fully to our purest, highest standards.