Wednesday 9 March 2011

Inundation of Ashes Service

What an Ash Wednesday morning that was.
The Beaker Folk don't generally "get" Ash Wednesday. Or, indeed, Lent. They didn't join a post-modern, self-indulgent religion in order to wallow in self-pity and repentance. Oh no.

They can stay at home and do that. If they're going to spend good money on their religion,
they want a good time. So generally they stay well clear of anything involving self-denial. Or, indeed, gloomy thoughts. Or self-examination. Unless the result of their self-examination is to conclude that, in fact, they just don't love themselves as much as they really should. Anything that builds up their self-worth generally seems to be what is required. And as the good, fee-paying customers - sorry, pilgrims - that they are, we like to give them their moneysworth.

But they wanted an Inundation of Ashes service. They'd heard the term - or at least something rather like it - and that's what they wanted. So I agreed. But I looked it up and it didn't sound like a barrel of laughs.

For starters, you're supposed to burn last year's palm crosses to make the ash. But we don't have any palm crosses from last year. So instead we crumbled up the ashes from Drayton Parslow's attempts to make pancakes last night.
And then you're just supposed to put a small, ashy cross on people's foreheads. Whereas we had enough pancake ash to re-cover Pompeii. So by mixing the ash with some vegetable oil (don't use peanut oil - it can give you problems with allergies) we made up enough to fire an ash/oil mixture out of a couple of Supa-Soaka water guns - once we'd "adjusted" the calibre with a hacksaw.  We thought that might be more fun and effective. If we're doing Ash Wednesday we want to do it properly.

And so then we had the problem of the liturgy. I mean - "From dust you came and to dust you shall return". Where's the self-fulfillment in that? You're gonna start worrying about your mortality and getting all down, with that kind of spiel. So we went for "Don't forget - we won the Ashes!" Felt that might give people more of a lift.

Well, the actual words were fine. But people ended up covered from head to foot in pancake ash and oil. Apart from spluttering with the taste and smell. they couldn't keep their footing on the wipe-clean surface of the Moot House floor. So we had ash-covered Beaker People sliding all over the place, and a couple ended up in the walls.

You know, on the whole we might have been better off doing a little light repentance instead.

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