By the Way

This year, I’m going to do better during Lent — except for the cursing

The Clark family, Dayna, Charlie, Jeff and Grammie, began the season of Lent by receiving ashes on their foreheads at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 1, 2017.
The Clark family, Dayna, Charlie, Jeff and Grammie, began the season of Lent by receiving ashes on their foreheads at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Long Beach on Wednesday, March 1, 2017. jclark@sunherald.com

Mardi Gras finally rolled its way out of 2017 and into our recent memories folder. And I say,” Good riddance.”

Sure, it was fun. And, sure, I like wearing my purple, green and gold New Orleans Pelicans hat and King Cake Baby T-shirt. But much like last year, I was kind of over Mardi Gras after the Pass Parade, although this year’s parade was super fun.

I will also miss all of the Mardi Gras photos that people were posting on Facebook. It was a nice break from the political back-and-forth. It was like when Prince died and everyone posted tributes to Prince instead of bickering over political ideologies. Yeah. I will miss Mardi Gras pictures on Facebook.

We are now two days into the season of Lent, a time for penance, fasting, prayer and alms giving. On Wednesday, many of us Catholics and Episcopalians ran to the church houses to have ashes placed on our forehead as part of the Ash Wednesday ritual. It’s to remind us that we were made from dust and to the dust we shall return. Ash Wednesday is so popular on the Coast that there was a spot in Long Beach on Wednesday where one could drive up in their car and have ashes placed on their forehead through the window.

Although I’ve only been a Catholic for two years — I had the great joy of being confirmed at the same time my son Charlie was baptized — I’m a former Episcopalian, so I’m very familiar with Lent.

I will say that I have a better understanding and a greater appreciation for Lent than I once did.

And every year, I take the 40 days leading up to Easter seriously. I try to pray more, be more mindful of others and be a better person. The goals are lofty and sometimes I adhere to my regimen and sometimes I fall by the wayside. But that’s life as a human being.

While I don’t really struggle with the fasting part or “what I’m giving up” — I don’t smoke, drink and eat red meat and I’m diabetic, so I don’t eat a lot of sugar — I do see Lent as a good time to build upon my faith and to attempt to be a better person.

Here’s where I’m at on Day Two of Lent 2017:

Stop cursing

I have a mini-me (Charlie) who likes to mimic everything I do, so I try not to curse around my son. But past that, all bets are off. I love to use curse words, especially when I get a little bit excited or anxious. It is what it is. And to be totally honest, I didn’t do too well with it on the first day of Lent. Hopefully, Day Two will be better.

Stop hating on the Ole Miss football program

Father Cuddy said it best last night, “Hate is not a word associated with Christians.” But after years of taking it from Ole Miss fans because the Rebels beat Alabama back-to-back, I was very happy when the Ole Miss football program became the subject of an NCAA investigation. And things are only getting worse for Hugh Freeze and the gang. So I’m not going to “hate” on Mississippi (as my friend Jackie Sherrill would call them). But I can’t make any promises post-Lent.

Move past Alabama’s loss to Clemson

I’m still having a tough time picking up and moving on from this loss. They blew a 14-point lead. How do you blow a 14-point lead only to lose in the last seconds? It was heartbreaking then and it’s even more so now. And to add insult to injury, my other team, the Cowboys, staged a comeback a mere six days later only to lose to the Packers in the final seconds of the playoff game. But it is time for me to move on and get over it. I guess. We’ll see.

Be a better father

While my other Lenten goals may be in jest because they are nothing we need to discuss with anyone except God, I do want to be a better father to Charlie and a better husband to my wife, Dayna. But these are goals I have every day. Lent is a time to strengthen my foundation as a father and a husband.

Now, about that cussin’.

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