Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


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Wednesday, February 25, 2004  

Today begins one of my favorite seasons in the liturgical year. Lent. That time of ritual, but private, sacrifice, when you have an opportunity to fiddle with the quality of your soul by adjusting the routine of your life. My own spiritual history does not include much in the way of church until I was 7, when my grandmother ordered my father to see that I went through the classes and ceremony of First Communion. At that time, the nearest Catholic church was in the city, actually in the slums, of south Richmond. What I remember most about the weekly classes was the drugstore that was still open, in spite of Virginia’s Blue Laws. They sold the real jaw breaker candy - the sort that changed colors in your mouth - and on Sunday’s too. What I remember most about the ceremony was that we were given little pictures strung on a ribbon that had been blessed by the bishop. My memory says that we were told if we were wearing them when we died, we’d go straight to heaven. What a rotten thing to do to a 7-year old. My god - the first prayer any child is taught is the one that goes “and if I die before I wake”! Fer cryin’ out loud - who would have thought sleep would be so darned dangerous? You can believe, I spent many a night prowling around my bedroom looking for my magic pictures so that I could wear them in case of death by sleep.

Once I had fulfilled my grandmother’s requirements, we fell back into our lapsed Catholic state. Daddy was the Catholic, mind you. My mother was the only Druid I knew, in 1950's Richmond. I knew she had not been brought up in the CC, and once, when I asked her what church she did go to as a girl she answered vaguely “Oh, some Protestant church, I suppose.” I loved those shadowy answers of hers. They usually meant that whatever I was asking wasn’t all that important and I could quit worrying about it. And worry I did.

In those days, school began with the Pledge of Allegiance, The National Anthem, and Scripture; that is, a reading from the bible. All the kids seemed to know these stories and know right where to turn in that mysterious book, to find them. They all went to Sunday School and Bible School, and while I felt sorry for them that they had to go to more school than I did, especially in the summertime, I also worried that when judgement day came, I’d be found wanting. Burning pits for me, little heathen. I did a whole lot of praying at night, begging God to not punish me because my parents didn’t go to church. I also prayed for the freckles to disappear - why did so many grownups comment on freckled faces back then?! - and tried to cut deals about undone homework.

Eventually my parents sent me to a Catholic high school where I got to practice rituals to my heart’s content. Though I went there kicking and screaming (Lawsee they had the ugliest uniform - can you imagine, knee covering box pleated skirts, bobby socks and saddle oxfords, in the Twiggy era of mini-skirts and Papagalo shoes?), my memories of it now are all good and I even learned to like the place well enough while I was there.

But I have always been the sort who plucked what I could use and left the rest, and eventually I did that with organized religion. And one of the things I like best out of the old CC ritual was the Lenten sacrifice. I love it that I have yet another opportunity to get it right. Endless beginnings. Yep, yep, an ENFP’s earthly paradise.

My take on this ritual is that it not only gives me an opportunity to put the brakes on something I am doing that I probably do in excess - or even that I know, out right, is a bad habit - but it also expects me to think a little about the nature of sacrifice, each time I successfully resist temptation. (Mind, now, I expect to resist it throughout the entire 7.5 weeks before Easter.) The idea is to remember that One who made the ultimate sacrifice and to rehearse a teensy bit, within my soul, in case I am ever asked to do the same. I don’t expect I would be able to do so with such dignity, humility and loving kindness. But I also hope I would at least not shrink in cowardice.

This year I am giving up using the Internet at work for personal stuff. It’s such a hideous temptation to slip on-line “just to check my email” and end up staying there way beyond what is truly proper. This is a habit I want to break - not just temporarily, but flat out eliminate. I have no problem with using my lunch hour, or staying late, or coming in early, to load scans. The machines at work are intended for public use and staff is also part of the public. But no more “just checking the weather” or “just checking the forums” before I settle down to work. Misuse of the Internet (not porn stuff, just irresponsible behavior) is a real occupational hazzard for librarians and other office workers. Especially since we do need to use it frequently, in a sort of wandering browsing manner, to help people find information they want. But that is a truly different thing from personal use and in my case I want to eliminate a kind of buzzing off from integrity that I fell into when a stupid IssueThatWillNotDie began eroding my attitude about my work. Well, even that issue looks like it’s going to be put to rest and by golly, so can my buzz-off behavior.

On a lighter note - I found this on Catherine’s site - and though I’m not a serous cat person - I do like the Aristo- prefix.

It's all about class, my dear.
Aristocat! You're a sophisticated cat, proud to
hold your head up high even when somebody ruins
your day. You do have your bad hairball days,
but instead of freaking out over something,
you'd much rather take it in stride and move

What kind of cat are you?
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posted by Bess | 6:59 AM