It is Ash Wednesday, and I was happy to be reminded of the poem of that name by T.S. Eliot. I hadn’t read it in years, and maybe you haven’t either. You can read it here.

Some of us will go today for the imposition of ashes, which is to say that we will have a minister make the sign of the cross on our foreheads with ashes from last year’s Palm Sunday palms. Locally, at least, Catholics and Episcopalians have this done in the morning and go around smudgy all day, but most of us do it in the evening. I believe that the reason the high churches go with the morning ritual is to give the reminder all day long as people say, “Hey, you’ve got something on your face.”

Lent is all about remembering and paying attention, both of which are difficult things to do when we are so busy with our lives.

Ash Wednesday and its ritual are not mentioned in the Bible, and lots of Christians therefore not only do not undertake this ritual, but also do not approve of it. You will hear claims (well, if you hang out in those circles) that Ash Wednesday is based on a pagan festival, but you won’t find any evidence for this claim. However, there are those who feel that any religious observance that is not commanded in the Bible is by definition pagan idolatry. There are also those that believe that ritual is wrong in itself, that it drives out true religious experience and makes observation mechanical and meaningless. These guys are not going around with smudgy foreheads.

I like the liturgical calendar, myself, and I am not opposed to a good ritual now and then.

I took my coughing and sneezing home early yesterday, and the Booksfree novels arrived in the mail just about when I did. I was therefore able to read one as I lay in bed with my Nyquil and hot tea. I am feeling well enough to stay up and work today, and can begin my novel fast without regrets.

I have a bunch of nonfiction hanging around waiting to be read or reread, and I also have a couple of books that use a story to make a spiritual point which I am in the midst of reading for study groups. I do intend to read my Book Club novel, which unfortunately did not arrive before today, though I felt that I had ordered it in plenty of time. I’ll read it on Sundays. Otherwise, I am fictionless till Easter. Since I normally read several novels a week, I think this will be a noticeable enough change in my life.

I hope so, at least. I usually do a Lenten study. The study group I go to on Wednesdays had talked about doing one together, and I had requested a frugalreader book called 40 Days to Your Best Life, (frugalreader being the online equivalent of “Hey, you want any of these books before I throw them out?” so I know nothing about that book, but it sounded as though it might be a Lenten study), so I took no further steps in that direction.

If you are observing Lent, then I pray that it will be a good journey for you.

If you weren’t out partying last night for Mardi Gras, then you might have been watching the Super Tuesday results. It’s being pretty exciting, it seems to me. I liked seeing the journalists assure one another that Huckabee of course had no chance and then have to say, well, hmm… looks like Huckabee just won in Georgia.

My husband says that McCain is too short to win the election. His height didn’t seem to hurt him in the primaries, but I think that it is true that the taller candidate generally has won since our elections have been televised. If one of the candidates is a woman, would that still have an effect?

Obama and Clinton are both still in. Some of the folks last night were suggesting that the Republicans might now be able to unite and chase after the independent vote, while the Democrats were still having to work for the primaries.

So the election remains interesting, which didn’t seem to be true last time around.

As I say, I am recuperated enough to sit up and work, but not to get to the gym, and I may have a nap this afternoon. I hope to visit your blogs and read about your Mardi Gras adventures and/or your insightful comments on the primaries.