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Today is Ash Wednesday. The first day of Lent.

Today is also the Farewell of the Plumbers, although that’s probably not in the normal Liturgical calendar. It’s in mine because we’ve been dealing with a prolonged and painful saga  titled:  The Hole in the Wall of the  Master Bathroom: The Case of the Missing Plumber.  As of noon today, the hole is sealed and everything that supposed to have running water seems to run and there is no water where there shouldn’t be any water. Everything is back on the wall and out of our bedroom and all the tools of a stranger are now out of the apartment. Two months. This is a thing.

So, perhaps finally I could pay attention to where I might get myself ashed, something I’ve done for as long as I can remember of my adult life. You’d think this wouldn’t be difficult given that there’s a Catholic church on nearly every other corner in this city. And if its not Catholic, then its Lutheran. And in German. Which gave me pause. Plus, the nearest congregations were not listing an Ashing Service on their webpages – at least not in language i could understand or run through Google Translate. A friend sent me a link to the Church of England’s service – but its a distance from here and at a time when Beloved usually comes home from work. Plus there’s all this stuff about taxation and access to sacraments and well, I decided I would accept my position as an outsider this year. I had some errands to run, if I came across a clear “Ash Here” sign then I’d follow it.

I didn’t.

I am looking at two Lent disciplines that have intrigued me, both of which has come to me via Facebook. One is this charming list of things to give up and things to take on from 2012: House for All Sinners and Saints and the other comes from the United Methodists Rethinking Church – Lenten Photo a Day.  Is it over achieving to have two Lent disciplines?

So here is what came to me to do tonight:

  • Grab some charcoal from last night’s fire (the first successful fire in the fireplace since moving in).
  • Grap the PC(USA) Book of Common Worship and my Bible
  • Go stand outside on my patio in my bare feet and without a coat
  • Read through the liturgy, then mark my feet and my hands
  • Go stand in the snowdrift while I finished reading the liturgy (which I read very quickly actually)
  • and take a photo of my feet in snow – thus fulfilling the first day of the photo-a-day requirement.

Why snow? Why bare feet? This is my first winter in snow country. It’s (so far) not as bad as I was afraid it was going to be. It occurred to me tonight that if I’m going to embrace being an outsider this year, I might also try embracing being cold. Feet naked cold.

Here is what I learned:

Cold hurts.

Shoes are good.

A few weeks back I boarded a tram where there was a pronounced unhealthy smell in our car. A street guy was in one of the benches. With socks and an open Birkenstock felt clog thing passing as shoes. I wondered if this man was healthy, if he wasn’t strugglingly with frostbite or gangrene. I wanted to ask but I don’t speak the language. Mostly I watched everyone else get on board the tram and hold their nose, pull up their scarf to cover their mouth and even – open a window!  I think about that guy still.

update March 7th:  Well, that discipline lasted exactly four days before I got distracted. Just wanted you to know that like almost everyone else in the world, I have lots of good intentions but struggle with the follow through. Oh well. 

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