The smudge

“Hey, you’ve got a big black smudge on your forehead.”
If you’re Catholic, you’ll hear this every year.
It’s Ash Wednesday.
The beginning of Lent – the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Holy Saturday and leading up to the resurrection of Jesus.
By cosmic kismet or just dumb luck, I had a coffee meeting this morning, and am meeting a friend for lunch. I’ll get ashed at the 4:30 p.m. mass.
Which means no one will need to tell me I’ve got a black smudge on my forehead.
(Tangent story time: I was back in Nebraska recently (and not surprisingly, this story takes place at Wal-Mart) and got behind a guy in line who was trying not to listen to the checker.
“Ummmm, I don’t remember, I think my father said it was the mascot or something,” the checker said.
“Uh, yeah, I dunno,” customer said.
“It was one of the Catholic colleges,” checker said.
“Uh, dunno.”
“What’s the question?” I said.
”Uh, I really dunno,” customer said.
“My dad had this nickname for this team,” checker said. “It was a Catholic school.”
“That would be Notre Dame Fighting Irish or Boston College Eagles,” I said.
“No, this had something to do with fish,” checker said.
“Mackerel-snapper,” I said.
“That’s IT!” Checker said.
“You do know that’s a derogatory term toward Catholics,” I said with a smirk.
“Oh, my gawd, no, I didn’t,” she said. “My dad was a fundamentalist Christian, he said a lot of things.”
“That,” I said, “I do not doubt.”)
Anyway, my bestest girlfriend called Tuesday night after leaving dad’s house for a visit.
“What are you giving up for Lent?”
“C’mon, you have to give up something. It’s tradition.”
“You can’t give up what you aren’t getting.”
“Ouch – but then neither can you. OK, lima beans and tapioca pudding,” I said, telling her that it was my running joke with my mom.
“You don’t like tapioca pudding.”
“I know.”
“You have to give up something.”
“OK, on Fridays through Lent, I’ll fast. Completely.”
“But what if you do something athletic, you’ll pass out.”
“A risk I’m willing to take.”
“You’re going to do it?”
“I asked your dad what he’s giving up for Lent, and guess what he told me?”
“That could be anything.”
“He said he gave up his foot for Lent, and that was as far as he was willing to go.”
Made sense to me.
You know where they get the ashes? Palm fronds from last year’s Palm Sunday – burnt and mixed with a little bit of oil. To stick.
And that way, all your non-Catholic friends can tell you that you’ve got a smudge on your forehead, there.


RachelRenae said...

I saw a lady walking downtown on my lunchbreak with a cross smudged on her forehead. I was a little confused- Crappy tattoo? Misguided fashion statement? Now I know! She's Catholic.

Beth said...

Ok time to out my family....born Northern Ireland half the families catholic/ half brethern-evangelical christian types! Leads to very confused childhood! I do remember smudged foreheads and fish on Fridays, and having to wear skirts and hats to church other than that I think I switched off alot! I never knew how they made the ash though thats interesting!

WTF is goin on? said...

got mine.