It's time for some redemption on this blog. Perhaps my greatest sin here is my lack of total honesty. Even when giving my answers on the Ann Landers Teen Sex Quiz, I knew I was being coy, holding something back. Here I am, trying to be a Bad Girl, and yet I know that I will never share my worst behavior with you. It shames me too much, and I'm no Britney Spears, shaving my head for all to see.
Historically speaking, by the way, women have for centuries been shaving their heads as an act of contrition.
I'm afraid that if I reveal the truly bad things I've done, you'll reject me. So I just go on being coy. That's my way.
That said, I recently sinned against my precious husband and felt bad enough about it that I went to church to seek forgiveness. This is a good season for redemption, seeing how it's Lent. So after drinking a few martinis at the pub on Tuesday night, the following afternoon I went to St. Patrick's Cathedral on 5th Avenue to get an Ash Wednesday smudge on my forehead.
Note: I'm not Catholic, so I probably committed a sin by getting the smudge because I wasn't properly sanctified before getting it. I asked my friend Laura, an Episcopalian priest, about this, and she doesn't know if the Catholics require pre-Ash Wednesday smudging preparations. But she does say that may be one of the few things that they don't require preparation for. Anyway, if you saw the line of sinners circled all round the block, awaiting the smudge, you'd have a pretty good idea of just how many people of all colors and creeds are in sore need of that ashen cross on their foreheads.
Laura calls this smudging of ashes business "imposing," and she got to impose lots of ashes at the service last Wednesday where she served as a guest priest: "As I put a cross on each person's forehead I said: 'Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.' I tried to say it in a warm voice so it didn't sound overly Calvinistic (Calvin was big on our inherent baseness) or morbid. I wanted it more to be a helpful reminder of our mortality so we can live life to the fullest and have an appropriate sense of humility."
As for me, my St. Patrick's priest said: "Repent. Turn to the good news." Laura says that sounds quite contemporary. But to be honest, I would rather have heard: "Go and sin no more," which is definitely older, as in Biblical. I suppose this is because I don't get to church much, so when I do go, I like to be shaken to the core. Plus, I like the old Biblical language. It's grand and it makes me cry.