Musings for the time before Lent: Mardi Gras & Fat Tuesday! Music, feasting and celebration.

Laissez les bons temps rouler. ‘Let the good times roll.’ — Unattributed

In the house of lovers the walls are made of songs, the floor dances and the music never stops. — Rumi

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience. ― Eleanor Roosevelt

Busy, they were, busy being original, complicated, changeable—human, I guess you’d say. — Toni Morrison, Jazz

Doing the work you’re best at doing and like to do best, hearing great music, having great fun, seeing something very beautiful, weeping at somebody else’s tragedy—all these experiences are related to the experience of salvation because in all of them two things happen: (1) you lose yourself, and (2) you find that you are more fully yourself than usual. — Frederick Buechner

Questions to consider:

  • What would you like to celebrate just before Lent? Will you indulge a bit too much, sip or chew one last time, or do something a while longer? Mardi Gras feasts come, in part, from using up the food items in a home and kitchen that would spoil, once religious observances began prior to Easter.
  • What forms of celebration give you the greatest connection to life-sustaining, exuberant emotions and experiences? Eating? Dancing? Music? Something else?
  • What do you do with overstock when you’re trying to spring clean and pare down, or simplify life?
  • During Lent, do you choose to give up something (abstain or fast in some way), give over something (relinquish control of something to a higher power), give to something (contribute time, attention, energy or resources to a specific cause or issue)? What is your spiritual practice, starting next Ash Wednesday?

Recipes for Mardi Gras

Music for Mardi Gras

Background on Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday

Brief explanation of Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday as a time of celebration prior to Lent, as a time of festival and celebration, including the tradition of using up household oils and fats prior to a season of fasting and abstinence:

Shrove Tuesday (also known … as Pancake Tuesday or Pancake Day) is the day … immediately preceding Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent), which is celebrated in some countries by consuming pancakes. In others, especially those where it is called Mardi Gras or some translation thereof, this is a carnival day, and also the last day of “fat eating” or “gorging” before the fasting period of Lent.

This moveable feast is determined by Easter. The expression “Shrove Tuesday” comes from the word shrive, meaning “absolve” … observed by many Christians … who “make a special point of self-examination …

As this is the last day of the liturgical season historically known as Shrovetide, before the penitential season of Lent, related popular practices, such as indulging in food that one gives up for the upcoming forty days, are associated with Shrove Tuesday celebrations. The term Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday.

On Feasting & Mardi Gras Celebration

Fasting and feasting are universal human responses, and any meal, shared with love, can be an agape. — Elise M. Boulding

We don’t hide the crazy. We parade it down the street. — Unattributed

[The] dinner party is a true proclamation of the abundance of being — a rebuke to the thrifty little idolatries by which we lose sight of the lavish hand that made us. It is precisely because no one needs soup fish, meat, salad, cheese, and dessert at one meal that we so badly need to sit down to them from time to time. It was largesse that made us all; we were not created to fast forever. The unnecessary is the taproot of our being and the last key to the door of delight. Enter here, therefore, as a sovereign remedy for the narrowness of our minds and the stinginess of our souls, the formal dinner…the true convivium — the long Session that brings us nearly home. ― Robert Farrar Capon

… food is not simply organic fuel to keep body and soul together, it is a perishable art that must be savoured at the peak of perfection. ― E.A. Bucchianeri

Mardi Gras is the love of life. It is the harmonic convergence of our food, our music, our creativity, our eccentricity, our neighborhoods, and our joy of living. All at once. — Chris Rose

The incarnation took all that properly belongs to our humanity and delivered it back to us, redeemed. All of our inclinations and appetites and capacities and yearnings are purified and gathered up and glorified by Christ. He did not come to thin out human life; He came to set it free. All the dancing and feasting and processing and singing and building and sculpting and baking and merrymaking that belong to us, and that were stolen away into the service of false gods, are returned to us in the gospel. ― Thomas Howard

Feasting is also closely related to memory. We eat certain things in a particular way in order to remember who we are. — Jeff Smith

Gratitude can turn a meal into a feast. — Melody Beattie

Leave a little sparkle wherever you go. — Unattributed

Mardi Gras is a state of mind. — Ed Muniz

This mask can’t hide my crazy. — Unattributed

Are you aware that your spirit needs to be fed? Did you know that your spirit would be delighted to partake in a feast of spiritual food? … prayer … maybe a few hours of succulent self-reflection? Perhaps a piping-hot selection … served by the side of a lake or under a tree, would satisfy your spiritual hunger. Can you imagine feasting for a few hours … uplifting music … some forgiveness … topped with compassion? — Iyanla Vanzant

Thoughts on Jazz

If you have to ask what jazz is, you’ll never know. ― Louis Armstrong

… like jazz … is one of those dazzling diamonds of creative industry that help human beings make sense out of the comedies and tragedies that contextualize our lives. ― Aberjhani

I’m always thinking about creating. My future starts when I wake up in the morning and see the light. ― Miles Davis

To be a jazz freedom fighter is to attempt to galvanize and energize world-weary people into forms of organization with accountable leadership that promote critical exchange and broad reflection. The interplay of individuality and unity is not one of uniformity and unanimity imposed from above but rather of conflict among diverse groupings that reach a dynamic consensus subject to questioning and criticism. As with a soloist in a jazz quartet, quintet or band, individuality is promoted in order to sustain and increase the creative tension with the group–a tension that yields higher levels of performance to achieve the aim of the collective project. This kind of critical and democratic sensibility flies in the face of any policing of borders and boundaries of “blackness”, “maleness”, “femaleness”, or “whiteness”. ― Cornel West

Jazz is not just ‘Well, man, this is what I feel like playing.’ It’s a very structured thing that comes down from a tradition and requires a lot of thought and study. ― Wynton Marsalis

There’s something beautifully friendly and elevating about … playing music together. This wonderful little world that is unassailable. It’s really teamwork, one guy supporting the others, and it’s all for one purpose … for a while. And nobody conducting, it’s all up to you. It’s really jazz … that’s the big secret. Rock and roll ain’t nothing but jazz with a hard backbeat. ― Keith Richards

It was the music. The dirty, get-on-down music the women sang and the men played and both danced to, close and shamelesss or apart and wild … It made you do unwise disorderly things. Just hearing it was like violating the law. ― Toni Morrison

Jazz presumes that it would be nice if the four of us–simpatico dudes that we are–while playing this complicated song together, might somehow be free and autonomous as well. Tragically, this never quite works out. At best, we can only be free one or two at a time–while the other dudes hold onto the wire … jazz only works if we’re trying to be free and are, in fact, together. ― Dave Hickey

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