I admit, I felt a little bit like a heathen on Ash Wednesday.
Instead of going to church or receiving ashes, I went to….a Flogging Molly concert.
Of course, I have always held some fundamental Presbyterian discomfort about Ash Wednesday. Or Lent in general. All the self-flagellation! All the ash that gets in my hair! All the guilt, all the fishsticks on Fridays! When I look around, I see a lot of people who give up stuff for Lent, with scant spiritual benefit. One friend told me that she gave up masturbation one year…and spent the Saturday night before Easter in bed with an issue of Playgirl, counting the minutes until midnight. Does neglecting Mrs. Rosy and her five daughters really lead to unity with the divine? (I don’t know, but I do know this: I was thinking about Lent this Sunday during church, and recalled said friend just as our pastor said, “Lent begins with Ash Wednesday….and climaxes with Easter.” Your immature blogger extraordinaire had to chomp on her knuckles to keep from snorting.)
So I hit the Hammerstein Ballroom on Ash Wednesday instead, accompanying my friend V., a devoted Flogging Molly fangirl. And it was GLORIOUS. Punk isn’t really my scene, so aside from a few casual listens to the CDs that V gave me, I wasn’t familiar with their music. But the high energy of the band and the crowd had me bouncing along and singing to whatever words I could catch. When we weren’t dodging the mosh pit roiling right next to us, anyways.
Dave King is a terrific frontman, performing with gusto and punctuating the show with lots of anecdotes (including a crack about….all of us heathens who weren’t at church for Ash Wednesday). And funnily enough, he shares a name with an Irish friend of mine. Whom I met…in line for admission to an Irish band’s show. (Three guesses as to which one.)
The whole show captured what I love best about a good concert– the mix of the corporeal and spiritual. Bodies bumping against each other, dancing to the music, the sweat, the electricity, the euphoria, the snap of community when everyone is crowded together, singing the same song. It’s pure, natural joy. You couldn’t have slapped the grin off my face. Or flogged it off.
But I’m looking for that connection to the spiritual in me, longer lasting than a three-hour show and more fulfilling than an awkward worship service. So my goal for Lent is to spend more time with God. Really with God, not just a “Wassup, nice to see you here!” on Sunday mornings. An adding on rather than giving up. Things in my church are chaotic and painful at the moment, so the time is ripe to shift the focus away from the Christian community and towards the individual relationship I have with this amazing, perplexing, infuriating, giving God.
And probably no moshing, either.