Wordless (Ash) Wednesday

"Ash Wednesday" by Carl Spitzweg: th...
“Ash Wednesday” by Carl Spitzweg: the end of Carnival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ash Wednesday is the moment in the church liturgical calendar when we pause as a community to remember Jesus’ temptation by the devil. Taken into the desert and offered all that the human heart could desire, Jesus said no. He prayed, he fasted, he suffered.

Not the stuff of headlines in today’s glitzy, glamorous society, particularly on the heels of the Oscars.

The day begins the season of Lent: 40 days of contemplation of this self-sacrifice in preparation for Easter. In this period many give up something as a way to experience the spirit of the season. Your craving for it is a reminder of the ways we can discipline ourselves (the anticipation of Lent is what created Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras).

More modern interpretations include beginning a new, positive habit during Lent as a spiritual practice. In 2008 I tried a mashup and focused on eliminating a bad habit: anger.

Ashes symbolize many things: the dust humans are made from, the dust we will return to. They’re often used to mark the forehead of those who attend this special service as a visual reminder of the impermanence of life.

Whether or not you are a Christian or belong to a denominate that observes Lent, this season, think about joining in either by abstaining or beginning anew.

For me, I will try the impossible: put something above my love of the carbonated beverage that is Coke. Even writing that sentence has me missing the feel of bubbles on my tongue.

But if it weren’t precious, would it be a sacrifice?





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Wordless Wednesday: Realize Stability is Not News

After three years of writing, revising and editing, this week, I’m launching my essay collection about life in the Middle East, From Dunes to Dior.

I started it after moving here, and listening to person after person in the U.S. ask me where, what, why, about my decision to move here. Mostly I think it had to do with the fact that the images they saw of this region were either the Uzi toting civilian or the woman draped in black, not allowed to drive. I could — and depending on my mood over the years in conversation — have pointed out many things about the framing of the western media of “the other” or even how a violent group of media savvy men has hijacked (to use a metaphor) a religious identity. Wordless Wednesday means I don’t have to. This is Qatar’s corniche.

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