A Prayer on Mardi Gras

I woke up early this morning to tie up some loose ends.
After my second cup of coffee, I grabbed my devotional and then paused.
What can you possibly say to G-d on Mardi Gras?
“Please close your eyes, this is going to be ugly” seemed as inappropriate
as today’s scheduled topic: preparing with spouses for crises.
(Doing the same devotional as your mother can have its downfalls.)

I hail from a religious tradition (Episcopal/Anglican) that is deeply tied to a little red prayer book. It has everything you could ask for.
Prayer for the Unemployed? Page 824.
Prayer for the SOBs in Congress who are doing jack shit about the unemployment rate?  Page 821.
They’ll lower me in the ground to words from that book.
As beautiful and as dear to my heart as the liturgy is, sometimes it doesn’t fit my experience or my needs. It took me a good while to realize that was okay.

In general, women and organized religion have had a tense relationship.
(Although, I promise you that in the specifics, there’s a lot more beauty and middle ground than you’d expect.) This un(der)represented feeling is common among groups on the Church’s margin, and women tread(ed) that line for centuries.
However, we are not limited to the current space of our religious traditions.
It’s at this point when women need to get out their pens.

More than simply therapeutic,
our words and experiences provide much needed perspectives to the Church.
When marginalized folks are included in the conversation,
the Church as a whole moves closer to the just community that it was established to be.
We need your words.
It can be as serious as a Divorce Liturgy or as irreverent as a prayer for the Franzia in your fridge to multiply.

Whatever speaks to your heart – write.

Or sing, or perform, or capture. Create the part of your experience that is missing from your religious tradition, whatever one that may be.

For me, second lines and white hankies are currently on my mind, so here we go:

Prayer on Mardi Gras

The sun hasn’t risen yet,
and I bet half of New Orleans is drunk already.
Oh, G-d, how I wish I was with them.
But, no, Lord, you’ve put me in the middle of a March snow.
Remove my bitterness.

G-d, today is one for the people.
Today is unending wine,
and sheets upon sheets of hot cross buns.
Today is every kind of Easter candy that CVS stocks,
and all the bead necklaces in my top drawer.
Today is undoubtedly about excess.
We’ll be sinners.
Gluttony, Drunkenness, Noise Violations,
the list will pile up.

But, tomorrow, when I come with sunglasses to the altar,
I think you’ll just shake your head,
and give me that knowing grin.
Because, G-d, today I’m also going to do you well.

Today is about letting go.
The reservations that I have around folks,
the barriers I build to keep them safely on the surface.
Those are coming down.
Today, strangers are old friends and acquaintances, family.

Today is about appreciating the crazy.
I’m suspending my concept of normal,
the one I try to fit my friends and myself into daily.
Today, I’ll put together my wildest costume,
and not worry about how it hugs my hips,
or if it fits this season’s color scheme.

Today is about enjoying this life.
I’m getting out of the library, the coffee shop, the gym,
to do the thing I never pencil in:
fun.
Booty-shaking, loud-cackling, pants-wetting fun,
with the folks who I don’t give enough time or attention to.

Today is about loving those folks.
Rather than the 100%-I-have-to-get-on-this-assignment-
because-it-will-drastically-improve-my-
someday-maybe-future-career
line I feed myself.
Today’s about appreciating my friends’ hearts
And about being grateful for the simple things in life:
a cold drink, lovely people, and good jazz.

So, G-d, tomorrow when you remind me that I’ll return to ashes,
Please, also remind me where I stored the numbers of my new friends,
and how nourishing it is to experience your Love through others.

Remind me where I left my shoes
and how breathtakingly enjoyable this world You created is
when I take the time to soak it in.

Also, remind me about the two Advil in my left pocket.

Thank you, G-d, for extremes that balance out the Church season.
Let your Love be present in them.

And please keep all the Mardi Gras-ers safe today/tonight.

In Jesus’s Name,
Amen.

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