Mardi Gras is underway, in New Orleans and throughout the Christian world, in anticipation of the Lenten season that begins this week on Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is traditionally a time of last-minute enjoyment and pleasure before the austerity of the forty days that follow. I’m thinking today that the celebration of Mardi Gras has its own spiritual purpose and significance, easily equal to the forty days of Lent that follow.
Despite traditions that have arisen in his name, Jesus never required sacrifice from his followers. “I come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly,” he said (John 10:10). We have learned to see him as a solemn man, focused always on his spiritual work. I don’t think so. He parties, he laughs, he throws a few zingers at the Pharisees. In fact, one of the major accusations brought against him by the religious authorities was that he enjoyed life too much, eating and drinking, laughing and carrying on in ways, and with people, they found inappropriate for a Jewish teacher.
Jesus knew and taught that we are all spiritual Beings, with a spiritual mandate that brings us into this illusion of duality. That awareness doesn’t forbid us from enjoying the illusion while we’re here. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Spiritual awareness gives us a loving mastery of the dualistic illusions. We have nothing to fear. The illusions can no longer seem more real than our Beingness, as they so often have in the past. So celebrating life and enjoying its pleasures allow us to create our experience with love and appreciation.
Lent has its equally important purpose, but even there it’s not about imposing a sense of lack. It’s about clearing out thoughts, beliefs¸ fears and addictive patterns that no longer serve us.
Today I choose to appreciate this human illusion as I move through it as an infinite spiritual Being. I celebrate the opportunities for feelings and experience I AM creating, and for the exciting new choices that flow from my expanding expression of my true Being.