Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Fat Tuesday

By third period I knew I had to do something. I was getting stares and comments all morning.

I wrote on the board that I was a long-term sub and that Mr. G would return in April. I sent out an email to staff with my picture, explaining to the other teachers and administrators that the teacher in room 25 belonged here and that the district office said that I did not need a new id card.

I’ve shaved my beard.

After over 32 years I have a naked chin.

And it feels weird. Heck, even my dog stared at me for a bit.

I have taken it off to provide myself a constant reminder of who I am, and what is the season.

I am a Christ-follower. It is Lent.

What a reminder it has been.

I woke up and I instantly felt the difference. I remembered. I prayed.

Thank You, Lord. Thank you for Your steadfast love. Thank You for getting me through this year and helping me to become someone who loves You even more than the year before...

Before my shower I looked in the mirror at the chin I haven’t seen in over three decades. The skin is a little red, unused to a razor.

I ran the hot water...

Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, give me this day...

I washed my face with hot water and slowly lathered up.

It was trickier than I remembered. Of course the beard of a man pushing fifty is much tougher than the beard of a 17 year old, so it is a tougher job.

...forgive me my sins, as I forgive...

The razor slides through the foam, scraping away the bristles that have grown through the night. Like blemishes, like sins, scraped away, inevitably they will return, but I will keep scraping...

Why did He do it? Why would the creator of all things let men grab him, drag him before a mortal for judgment for crimes He did not commit, and permit them to spit in his face?!

lead me not into temptation... O mighty Lord, help me to see clearly any temptations I am to weak to overcome and help me to turn before I cause you sorrow...

I washed the film of unused foam from my face. Ran the razor once more over spots that were not quite clean enough.

I used aftershave for the first time since the 70s. This new stuff is a lot different than the Old Spice I remember.

And all day long I kept touching my chin, rubbing my cheeks... and praying.

Lord, You were stripped of so much for my sake, for our sake... thank You. Keep me mindful of this season. Give me wisdom to follow You better...

All day long students and colleagues made remarks about my changed appearance. I cracked jokes with them, and inwardly prayed.

...Lord, provide for me today, by the time I fall asleep, a verse that I may meditate upon for the next 40 days...

This season, this prelude to the celebration of our risen Lord, is part of the cycle of my life. I want to embrace what is hideous, what is ugly, the torture and death of the almighty God, and taste that bitter story, swallow that meal purchased at such a great cost, and in consuming it make it a part of myself, of who I am.

Tonight I will watch The Passion of the Christ, and it will hurt. Tonight I will take communion and it will be a token of my admission guilt, and my salvation.

I have invited my children to come with me. It is their decision.

If they do come I will answer their questions, helping them to assimilate this awful truth: the Lord God, maker of all things, is so much the essence of love that He wished to share it with other creatures and created us. We rejected Him, and He made Himself mortal to show us how a man might live, truly live, and then He permitted us to lay hands upon Him, to beat Him and to puncture His body, and to nail Him to a piece of wood.

It’s Fat Tuesday. But the world is starving. We feast on pleasures and foods and intoxicants because we have been cut off from the source of life. It’s Fat Tuesday because we want to fool ourselves into believing that we can fill our own bellies. But we are all truly starving.

I want to eat and drink from the infinite.

Come Lord Jesus...



Anonymous said...

the feel of hunger will stay without Jesus in our lives. He's the only source of "food" that we can take in and feel stuffed spiritually. btw, you look so much younger without the beard. =)

jel said...

very touching post CS,

when I'm husband shaves his beard off it takes me a day or 2 to get use to it! makes him look diff. without it!

have a great day

Ame said...

An incredible window into the power of God woven purposefully into life. Reading your blog was not the first place I heard of Lent this season, but along with another and previous years of hearing about creative ways to honor Lent, I was motivated. I prayed; God answered. And I'm in my Forty Days. Thanks.

Ame said...

Thanks, CS, for the help!!! I've been trying to figure that out for forever in between life and just haven't got it yet . . . till now!

Felisol said...

Dear Curious Servant. I’m impressed with the sincerity, devotion and effort you meet Lent. Thought I might write some of how it has been done for a thousand years in Norway. It is a bit farfetched in the context you are writing, and if you find it unsuitable, I will certainly not be offended.
Norway was a Catholic country from 1033 until 1537. The Danes forced the Norwegian colony to accept the Lutheran Protestant Church, and to this day 85% of the Norwegians belong to this church, which is owned and governed by the Norwegian state. The calendar, called the Primstav, carved in wood, had marks for every day of the year. Important days, either for the church or agriculture had in addition its own sign. The sign of March 1 is hair and full beard after St.Albinius...(Coinsidense or what)
Even nowadays we celebrate fastelavn, which is the time before 40 days of fast (Lent). Last Sunday, Fastelavn Sunday, special buns with whipped cream, butter cream or jam are served. The table is decorated with birch twigs and coloured feathers. (Ancient symbol of fertility). Then Blue Monday follows, which refers to the hangover most had after over eating and drinking. Fat Tuesday was nessessary, if poor and on the edge of starvation peasant should survive 40 days of fast. Early spring has always been the hardest time to come through for people depending self supply. They often had to blend in bark in the meal and find leaf buds to avoid shortage of vitamin C. Then Ash Wednesday came, the first day of the lent. One went to mass in church and got an ash cross drawn on the forehead as a sign of our own mortality and the days of sacrifice and contemplation that were to begin. I’m afraid we do not practise that anymore in Norway.
Your writing has, however, given me much to think about. Where or with what shall I begin??
It has got to revolve around the theme of love, I think. That’s where I feel all my shortcomings add up.
Very much fascinated by your “New Look”. The before picture reminds me of an earnest patriarch. The new one, of the young disciple who runs eagerly around and tells “I have met Christ!” May you stay forever young!
From Elise

curious servant said...

Thank you Elise!

I found that very interesting.

I'm glad you shared.

curious servant said...

These comments were placed on a more recent, temporary, post that was pointing folks to the previous post (new pic).

Tamara said...

You have a lovely face - so, does the wife think she is with a younger, different man? Hehehe. I love you never adventure in shaving! How fun.

7:39 AM, March 01, 2006
Joe said...

Hi, thanks for stopping by. I am Catholic, and think it is great for you to walk the Lenten path. You're right so much of our Faith is taken for granded. You're always welcome at my place! Have a good week!

1:46 PM, March 01, 2006
Paula said...

What a great way to celebrate Lent. I'm wearing a homemade blue cloth bracelet around my wrist as a visual symbol of the Lent season.

I like the shaven look on you!


2:01 PM, March 01, 2006

JeffGeorgia said...

Thank you so much for your poetic writings. You are an inspiration to Karen (BadAlice) and me (StillJewish). It's funny how we are called to be different - the world says EAT and JESUS says FAST.

All I can say is keep writing - I love it.

Jeff H said...

17-year-olds don't have beards--they have peach fuzz, if they're lucky. Or unlucky (for girls).

Nice way to remind yourself constant of our essential difference from the rest of the world--those not living under the cleansing blood of Christ. I like it--but I'm not I'll shave my moustache/goatee. It's been probably at least 10 years since I last did so.

see-through faith said...

be blessed - servant of God

jollybeggar said...

yep- a couple of things, man.

1) i am reminded of that powerful scene in 'lion.witch.wardrobe' where they shave aslan's head, removing his 'visible crown.' ...something about nakedness is incredibly humbling, yeah? that Jesus underwent this experience in obedience, out of love, even unto death on a cross, on our behalf brings with it a complementary humbling for those of us on the wrong side of the sin line. yet in accepting his humility for our own, we join in his glory- 'behold, i make all things new!'

2) the pictures of the 'new you' look strangely more like the person that i pictured as i read your posts. having no pictoral reference, we tend to make faces up based on tone and all that- you ever see a picture of a radio personality and go 'wow- he looks nothing like his voice'? well your face without the beard looks like the guy i was picturing. weird, huh?


wilsonian said...

Beautiful man.
Beautiful image in your profile box.
Beautiful devotion.

Vicki said...

You're definitely my brother in Christ! I recognize Jesus in you.