Taught by a Heron’s Heart

In 1950’s small town Iowa, Mardi Gras was barely a rumor. We’d read now and then of the bead-tossing, the parades, the exotic French Quarter celebrations with their hints of unspeakable, masked misbehavior.  But we were midwesterners, with midwestern sensibilities, and gave little thought to those far-away customs.

Even neighbors who traveled to New Orleans seemed to consider Mardi Gras a purely native ritual, disconnected from their experience of the city.  Their souvenirs – long, gray-green sweeps of Spanish moss, Hurricane glasses from Pat O’Brien’s,  recordings of Sweet Emma Barrett’s piano and Willie Humphrey’s exquisite clarinet – were the stuff of any vacation.  As we listened to their jazz and looked at their photos, New Orleans’ life seemed normal enough, recognizable despite its differences.  On the other hand, Mardi Gras seemed odd, slightly degenerate, part of a world of drunkenness and debauchery best avoided by reasonable people. (more…)

Published in: on February 12, 2013 at 2:57 pm  Comments (95)  
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Everything But the Christmas Sync


December can be a tough time for liturgical sorts.  Like embarassed house guests caught snooping through the master suite, we slink around corners and head for the shadows, clutching our candles and garlands, listening to the  silence ripple as we wait for the Great “O Antiphons” to begin, wondering, “Am I the only one here?”

“Here” is Advent.  Designated by the Christian Church as a time of preparation before the Feast of the Nativity, the four week season has its own traditions, prayers and disciplines.  The Advent Wreath and Calendar mark the passing of the days and heighten anticipation.   The shimmer of candlelight softens the night and the beauty of liturgical prayer and song gives rest to the soul – but they certainly aren’t what our culture has in mind when it speaks of “getting ready for Christmas”. (more…)

Published in: on December 6, 2008 at 9:25 am  Comments (3)  
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