Tag Archives: Shrove Tuesday


Tiny black notebooks don’t stay tiny for long. Just like all other baby critters, a notebook can grow with a life all unto itself. Stuffed into whatever corner of light found in my varied classrooms, that tiny notebook flourished.  Over the years it became stuffed with teaching ideas, notes from students, a few stories/poems that students gave me to keep, very few pictures, and even fewer pieces of my own writing (believe it or not, this writing teacher needs to write with her students), that notebook grew into one larger version after another.

In other words: one glorious treasure chest of memories.

Not sure what started me on this journey today. Had no plans to dig into this particular treasure chest. After all, my room is still cluttered with enough stuff that I need to organize from my mom’s last box of memories. But there I was my hand resting on a black notebook that had been stuck totally in a back corner of my photo closet with no other explanation except that a breadcrumb had landed on it and caught my eye.

I sighed and pulled it out. Papers stuck in between pages fluttered to the floor, and I laughed. What else can you do when there is some paczki sitting in my fridge on King’s Day or Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras or Carnival or whatever you want to call the day before Lent? You stuff your face with one kind of sweetness and fill your eyes with another kind – sweet memories.

One of the things that fell to the floor was a Peanuts cartoon. Linus holding his blanket. Bossy Lucy sitting in front of the TV. A sigh hanging between them. I remembered this cartoon and a note from a student back in 2000 saying they thought of me when they read it. I smiled and I sighed.

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.”

It is the beginning of Lent. The symbolic remembrance of a singular journey. A day when a young Rabbi arose before daybreak to walk into the darkness. A custom that started his day and ended his day. A whispered prayer that started and ended each day for him and all the generations of Jews before and after him.

“She-ma yisrael, adonai eloheinu, adonai echad…” 
Hear O’ Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One…

Alone time with his Father before he woke the others. A time of reflection. A time to look deep within himself and out over the countryside that waited for his first step. And somewhere deep inside me, I think, he smiled, took a deep breath and sighed.

The Father knew what was in the heart of his son on that first day. That day when Yeshua turned his feet towards Jerusalem. He knew the humanness that pulled at his first born. He knew the atrocities that lived in the heart of His other children. He knew of the love and repentance of others. And – perhaps – like His son – He, too, breathed deeply and sighed.

Two sighs united in eternity. Two hearts beating in two different realms. A Father – – A Son singing notes that could not be expressed in words until the Holy Spirit harmonized with them. A single note with all the harmonics of the universe blended into one focused purpose. A trinity united for one purpose – Grace began its journey toward Jerusalem in that breath – that sigh.

Valentines Day seems to be the perfect day to start Lent. Whether we give something up or give something away or give of ourselves to others, Lent is an active choice of Love enacted in life. A time to set our sights on Jerusalem, take a step into the darkness and pray for strength to walk forward in a timeless sigh towards Grace.

“And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.”~Rm 8:26-30 Peanuts 2000 051[google image]


Ok – here it is – another “Fat Tuesday” – another Mardi Gras – another Shrove Tuesday – and I have yet to find Paczkis in NC. Oh – I could travel 50 miles and find some, but that isn’t really my idea of fun. Surely somewhere within a smaller circle of miles there must be a Polish baker who understands my pain. My former principal certainly doesn’t. She sent me a taunting text last night, and I cried myself to sleep…dreaming of those gut-busting, delicious doughnuts.

So instead – I went and picked up the Grandson, spread my metaphorical mantle over the both of us and rejoiced in his hugs and curious nature. (I’m not quite sure what I will do when he decides to be too big to hug on Grandma all the time. His sister is almost there and it is not easy on the Grandma – sigh)

I tend to think this was a much better way to spend “Fat Tuesday” since ingesting multiple varieties of ol’ Paczkis (can’t say that word anyway) would lead to me having to find a much larger mantle to cover the expanding gut. Soooo – as he curled into my lap (while eating mac ‘n cheese), we read a Pete the Cat book AND solved the major problem of all board games. We figured out that if one dice does not give you the number you want in a board game, there is another cube hidden deep in a drawer that may just be the lucky one you need.

“Elijah went up to him and threw his mantle around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah.”~1 Kg 19:19-20

Today, I was reading about the passing of mantles in the Bible world. A mantle was more than just a physical covering that enfolded the prophet or rabbi’s shoulders. It was the spiritual calling, the anointing of God’s blessing and covering presence upon that individual for the Ivrim (Hebrews) and later for the world.

Moshe, as he ascended the mountain for the last time, laid his hands and his mantle upon Joshua. When Elijah dropped his mantle to the ground as the chariot of fire came and whisked him away to heaven, his disciple, Elisha, reached down and picked it up, The spirit of Elijah – the spirit of Elohim came upon him. Each leader – each prophet – each rabbi – passed on his mantle.

[Elisha] took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.”~2 Kg 2:14

When Yeshua entered into the Jordan to be baptized, John passed the mantle just as his ancestors had done. And just as before, the Spirit of the Father descended and covered the man who had chosen to pick it up and carry it forward. But this is where it changes. The mantle Rabbi Yeshua carried could never be carried by just one man ever again. Instead, when He laid down His mantle, the Holy Spirit of God enveloped all who choose to pick up the mantle. We celebrate this day by calling it Pentecost, but in truth, whenever one God’s children chooses to pick up the mantle, to be born-again, the Spirit of God is present as well.

“And during the arriving of the day of Pentecost, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound like a violent rushing wind came out of heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them dividing tongues as of fire and sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit was giving to them to utter forth.”~Acts 2:1-4

“Shrove Tuesday” – “Fat Tuesday” – Mardi Gras – however you want to refer to it – was all about spreading my own cozy mantle. Spreading the mantle instead of the girth of my belly. I guess, I’m not ready to lay down my mantle yet. He keeps tell me there are some more rabbi days left in me and most of the time – I tend to believe Him. I just wish he would be a clearer on the specifics of it all. Looking at the backside of a tapestry is a puzzle my brain doesn’t always decipher well.

In any case, day-by-day, I’m definitely spreading my own mantle out over the shoulders of those around me – physically and metaphorically. FB, blogs and Goggle docs keep me writing, editing and teaching in more ways than the traditional classroom allows, and I am enjoying it. I’m also enjoying cuddling under my mantle with the Grands – even techno cuddling via FB with my MI Grands. The blessings of His Mantle never fails.

Am I?

mardi-grasI sent myself several pictures today of the house in progress, and like normal, I erased them off the phone as soon as I pressed “send”. None of them showed up in my e-mail. A physical record of this day had been lost somewhere in cyber space and now – there is no way to get it back.

Days in our lives are like that. Sometimes months and years are like that.

Another Shrove Tuesday has come and gone. Some have put on their colorful beads and masks and enjoyed the day. I’m sure lots of selfies were snapped. In New Hampshire it was a voting day. Tons of selfies were snapped here. For many – this is a day that turns into crazy celebrations about the joy of life, eating amazing foods and fatty sweets, drinking the wine of life in huge quantities and dancing in the streets unto the wee hours of the morning. A total Mardi Gras in modern tradition.

I’m not sure why I never feel like doing this on the day before Lent. As I was growing up in my small rural town, I had many Catholic friends who would come to school on Ash Wednesday with ash upon their foreheads and complaining about not being allowed to have meat. After school, I would rub dirt on my forehead and wonder if it made a difference if it was not really ashes. When I was in college, I often started Lent with a fast, pulled out my dusty Bible and read a few passages. It was beyond what I usually accomplished on a typical day, so I figured that was a good way to start Lent. On succeeding days, I would give up some kind of food or sweet treat and wondered if God noticed my sacrifice.

But the thing is – – – I hadn’t really noticed His sacrifice.

I often wonder how Rabbi Yeshua spent this day. The day before he stepped out on his last journey in this physical life. Did he go into the wilderness to pray and fast – as He often did before major events – or did he party the night away with his buds before he got down to the way-too-serious part of his mission?

I keep coming up with maybe it was a little of both. A party with the buds and a late night trip into the wilderness with His Father. What do you think?

One of my students interviewed me today via social media for a class she is taking. Many of the question dealt with my life journey and culture we live in at this point in time. It made me think about a question I have been turning around in my head for awhile now. Later I got into a discussion with a couple of family members that brought it forth again. So for the past couple of hours it has been spinning a little faster.

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”~Gen 4:9

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” In Jewish traditions – no Bible story stands on its own. Each story – made up of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of Hebrew letters and jots and titles brings more than a single story in a historical narrative (600,000 in the Torah alone). In true Jewish tradition, God slowly answers it with story upon story upon story. Taking us deeper into His wisdom and personality with each answer. If He had answered Cain on that tragic day with the story of a Son who gives his life for his brother, would Cain have understood? Would I have understood? Do I understand even now after a 65 year journey?

Our journeys are designed to lead us to find the answer to our own questions that we want to ask of Our Father. Are we our brother’s keeper? Why does this happen to me? Why is there disease – murders – hate????

The list goes on and on. I guess that is what Shrove Tuesday is to me. It is the beginning of a new journey. A series of questions, questing and testing. A party of best buds. A war room with lists of others needs and pains on the wall. A journey into the wilderness with my Father. A time to open my Bible (which BTW is no longer dusty … well except for the saw and wall dust that swirls around everyday) . A gathering of my talents. A bowl to polish as I kneel before my God in awe.

“Am I my brother’s keeper?” Joseph, Miriam, Moses, Ruth, Naomi, David, Apostles, Saints, George Washington, Charles Drew, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa……… A very few of the imperfect people who have tried to answer that question in the same way that the perfect Rabbi Yeshua modeled for them.

“Am I?” I continue to pray on this Shrove Tuesday and begin the journey once again. “Am I?”

“Shrove Tuesday Prayer”

God of feasting,
we give you thanks
for the richness of life.
As Jesus turned water
into wine at Cana,
we think of your desire for
all your people to celebrate life.
Bless us as we celebrate the joy
of being your people.
Send your Spirit to dance
and sing with us.
As we enter the Season of Lent,
may it, too, be a celebration of life:
of an inward journey of contemplation and wondering,
of learning and exploring.
And in all of this,
may we grow closer to Jesus,
to one another, and to you.
We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


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pancake_1400cYesterday was a change-over day. As I gathered the Christmas candles from the windows, those final vestiges of Christmas, the darkness appeared a little darker,,,a little scarier. The bright reds of Valentine love were replaced with the gentler shades of shamrocks, little faeries peeked out of their hiding places and whispered, “Spring” to my home, and a transition began within me as well.

Today is “Fat Tuesday”.  It is the literal translation of Mardi Gras. Raised by an ex-king cakecommunicated Canadian Catholic (because he married a protestant), my mom always called it “Shrove Tuesday” which means to strive – to confess. Celebrations from Epiphany to now are culminating as the King cakes and paczki are replaced by fasting, sacrifice and confession. The Lenten season has almost arrived on my doorstep.

I looked out the window for a while tonight. Watched as the snow/sleet mixture covered our front yard as the dogs romped and slid around, enjoying the rare chance to roll in such cold whiteness. My approach to the Lenten season has been different this year. The usual enjoyment has been missing. I’ve been —- I don’t know what I’ve been. Contemplative, perhaps is the closest word I can find. I’ve been reading a lot, praying more and digging into my faith with a big ol’ shovel.

I turn from the window and listen to the dogs and the hubby snore. I smile as their noisy breaths become synchronized. Mumbles emerge out of each of them as the snow/sleet mixture piles a little higher outside. The night has become quieter, and I am listening. For what I do not know. But I am listening.

According to Jewish tradition and law, we are in the middle of a Jewish Shemitah year (Sept. 24, 2014–Sept. 13, 2015). A time to honor God by resting the land and forgiving debt. The 7th year of a 7year period. 2015 is also a Jubilee year (the 7th year of 7 consecutive Shemitahs or in other words – the 49th year in a 50 year period).The 50th year then becomes a year of freedom for the Jewish people. It makes you wonder how closely the Jewish nation is tied to our nation, when you consider the recent history of Shemitah years in 2001 and 2008.

So as Lent approaches once again, I find myself waiting by the window. Listening. Watching. Praying. It is the nature of Lent. It is what Rabbi Yeshua did as He turned His feet towards the cross. I can do no less.

“Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.” Lk 29-31

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