This week the media brought us plenty of bright, colorful views of revelers at Carnaval celebrations all over the globe, photos of King Cakes and Mardi Gras parties on Pinterest, and tempting recipes popping up everywhere. Most everyone knows that Mardi Gras–“Fat Tuesday”–is based on the idea that if one is going to give up partying, drinking, and feasting for the 40 days of Lent, then it only makes sense to gorge oneself on all of these things until the very minute Lent starts. We see the photos and videos of people dancing wildly, shouting, singing, parading, drinking, carousing, and stuffing themselves with all sorts of delectable-looking foods.
Being a language person, I find it interesting that the word “carnival” or “carnaval” is related to English words like “carnivorous” and “carnal,” which refer to meat/flesh. Carnival/Carnaval celebrations are all about indulging the flesh to the max as a way of saying goodbye to the flesh for the period of Lent. Tying these thoughts back to my Lenten goal of learning to give up selfishness, I think it’s intriguing to note that saying no to selfishness means, in essence, saying no to my flesh. Hmmm… This certainly bears more pondering.
So… if the Carnaval revelers had their Fat Tuesday of feasting and frolicking to say goodbye to their flesh for 40 days, then I certainly had mine for saying goodbye to selfishness. Sadly, though, I have to admit that mine wasn’t planned that way. At least the revelers have the good sense and the integrity to plan their indulgences; I just fell into mine in the usual fleshly ways.
My Tuesday afternoon was planned to be an errands day. I don’t ever look forward to errands days. I always pack my agenda with more stops than I can ever fit into the allotted time, and then I get worn out and grumpy. I had intended to take off and start my list right after lunch, but important and long-awaited calls about our insurance coverage and flood damage restoration started coming just as I wanted to leave home. The result was getting out of here at 2:30 instead of 1:00. <sigh…> I tucked the thought into the back of my mind that I would surely run out of afternoon and energy long before I ran out of errands, so I’d call Bill and ask him to meet me on his way home from work and finish the list together. And then we’d have dinner out while we were OTR (on the road).
As I marched, and then trudged, and then slogged my way from one stop to the next, I saw the hands on my watch racing faster as my tummy growled louder. Wryly I made a note to self that since I started dieting on March 1st (coincidence; not related to Lent) I am going to have to be more aware of taking protein snacks along when I do my errand marathons. Every few minutes I tried again to reach Bill. I left messages on his office phone… knowing that he hardly ever gets to his desk these days and would probably never get my messages. I dialed and then redialed his cell phone. Each time it went to voice mail I got a little more frustrated, because he has purposely never set up an inbox and could not retrieve a message even if I left one. I also texted him, but I had no idea if he’d know he got a text, especially if he wasn’t answering his phone anyway. Finally I started leaving messages on the machine at home, so least if he went straight home he’d find out where I was and could call me to synchronize plans.
The more exhausted and hungry I got, the more calls I made, and the angrier I got. Before long I was mentally slicing and dicing my husband. How dare he ignore my calls? Does he think it’s funny to be unreachable by cell phone? How on earth am I supposed to be connected to a person who is beyond the reach of a phone call? What if this were a freakin’ EMERGENCY? What plant is he working in today, anyway? How far away is he? When will he be coming through this way on his way home? When will he get home and find me not there? All in the world I want to do is ask him to meet me at Walgreens, for Pete’s sake! Is that so much to ask?!?!?! As I tromped up and down the aisles of Walgreen’s, indulging myself in a Fat Tuesday feast of selfish, angry thoughts, I looked up to meet the eyes of…
…the very same husband I’d been trying to reach for HOURS. I can only imagine my countenance as my head swam with angry, accusing thoughts. His face brightened, his eyes lit up, and he looked delighted at the very sight of me. He hadn’t read my text or listened to my messages or had any idea I’d be at Walgreen’s. Innocently, he hastened to tell me that he couldn’t find his cell phone, had lost it hours ago. Meeting up at Walgreens? Pure serendipity. (Or pure evidence of the hand of a loving God?) Yes, he agreed joyfully, he would LOVE to take me out for dinner. We finished finding the things we needed at Walgreen’s and then headed out to relax over a hot dinner that I didn’t have to make in my over-tired, over-hungry state.
It was not until later that I made the connection. I had my Fat Tuesday, all right. I had indulged my flesh to the max. I had feasted on selfishness.
And the 40 days to follow? Will I get myself on a crash diet of selflessness? Stay tuned…