Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday—more commonly known in its French translation as Mardi Gras. Americans, at least, associate Mardi Gras with drunkenness, parades, and green, yellow, and purple necklaces. The holiday’s mecca is New Orleans. The irony of this day—and also the reason it exists—is that it falls on the eve of Lent. Lent: the quiet and repentant season of the Church that seeks to usher in the celebration of Easter. Because Lent has historically been a time of fasting and repentance, Mardi Gras is the last day of excess before a season of restriction. Are you giving up chocolate for Lent? Then scarf down not just a piece, but an entire chocolate cake on Fat Tuesday. Are you giving up red meat? Then gorge yourself on hamburgers and steaks before the clock strikes midnight. For when the clock strikes twelve, Lent begins, and we find ourselves like Cinderellas, back in our rags. Our party clothes are gone and it is time to mourn.
This is not really how it works, of course. Mardi Gras revelers party all night, well past the midnight chimes and into Ash Wednesday. But as people of faith, Ash Wednesday is a day that marks us—figuratively and, in some traditions, literally—for a period of weeks that is meant to change us. Lent seeks to hush our ravenous appetite for ease and excess and, instead, remind us that the way of Christ is neither of those things. The way of Christ is the way down—down from heaven, down to the dust of the earth and the pain of a cross. It is the way of truth.
I am not in a liturgical church tradition now, although I have been in the past. But still, my soul pauses on the edge of Lent. I want to learn the way of Christ more fully, and I want to join him on that journey to the cross. This year, I am contemplating Jesus as the Truth-Teller—the one who came to live, speak, and offer truth to all of humanity. I want to better understand Christ’s words to his followers: “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).
If you want to journey with me in this season, you can subscribe to my blog on the right of the page. I would love to have you join me in this season of Lent and seek freedom from Truth himself.