Monday, February 04, 2008

Super Tuesday - Louisiana Style

Folks in the rest of the country are worried about picking up votes, while we're worried about catching beads and that last piece of King Cake.

Jim McGill, a long time instructor at the Diocese of Shreveport's Greco Center, gave an incredible presentation last year about Mardi Gras, Lent and Easter and how they all fit together in a spiritual sense. I'll do my best to give you my own recap/interpretation of why Mardi Gras is a spiritual season.

It starts with Christmas, when Christians believe God took on human form and came to Earth as the Baby Jesus. That act seems to support the idea that being human is a good thing, and we should relish in the incredible gift of life and the tangible, beautiful, messy parts of being eternal souls with bodies.

Enter Mardi Gras. We sometimes go overboard with our celebrations, but in the best sense this season is about enjoying life -- eating, drinking, being merry.

After a few weeks of that though, we start to wonder is there soemthing else out there? Ash Wednesday forces that discussion. We fast, pray, give alms and perform other sacrifices depriving that same body we just celebrated. In other words, we seek. We look for our souls and examine it. What should we do better? How can we find a balance of spirit and worldliness?

The intensity of Lent leads to Easter. Jesus rises from the dead. We too have a fresh start. We can now live in the world revivied, with a new understanding that there's more to it than the eating, drinking and being merry.

When Jim gave his theological analysis of the seasons, I thought about the many conversion stories I have heard in my five years of covering the religious community. They all sound like that same pattern. Someone enjoys life a little too much, hits bottom, searches for some meaning and often finds that in a religious community. And to some extent it sounds like a cycle we all have to live of constant examination and conversion.

So enjoy your King Cake today. Tomorrow we will have questions to ponder.
Photo: A family cheers on the Highland Parade Sunday. Jim Hudelson/The Times

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