Last week Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday fell on the same day for the first time since 1945. A day for romance and fasting. Strange mix.
Romantic Christians perhaps found the night weird: a candlelight dinner with no food, giving their sweetheart a box of chocolates they’re not allowed to eat and whispering sweet nothings in each other’s ears as they dined on … well, sweet nothing.
They could order champagne and toast … they just couldn’t drink any.
Surely lovers could still go out for a night on the town.
But wearing your best clothes, lipstick and make up, and a big cross of ash on your forehead too? People ask, “do you wipe the ash off your forehead after you leave church or leave it on?”
Leave it on so people stare at you like you’re a weirdo at least one day a year. When you dress as a priest people stare at you like you’re a weirdo every day of the year!
I got so sick of people staring at me every day saying to each other, “hey, look at that weirdo dressed as a priest!”
That I decided to start wearing normal clothes for few days, before getting sick of people constantly staring at me and saying to each other, “hey, look at that weirdo dressed in normal clothes!”
The benefits of fasting have been known in organised religion for thousands of years.
Christians fasting for Lent, Muslims fasting for Ramadan and Buddhist monks abstaining from food from noon to dawn is not new.
Professor Amanda Salis from the University of Sydney said earlier this month that eating and digesting food takes a toll on the body.
I could have told you that. She stated that taking the odd break from eating and digesting can be a good thing. I couldn’t have told you that.
Fasting has mental health benefits and can help reset your relationship with food according to psychologist Meredith Fuller.
Wearing a cross on our forehead is an outward sign that we have begun a season of penance, but once the ash has worn off, it is a continuing season of personal reflection that cannot be seen by those around us, however it benefits the soul in many ways.