I’ve been thinking about the spiritual calendar that seems to govern our inner lives as much as the calendar on the wall governs our daily activities. I’ve been aware of it for some time now, but it really came into perspective this year when Lynn Jericho’s 12 Holy Nights guided me so brilliantly through the post-Christmas holiday season.
Because I wasn’t raised in a religious home, I’ve had to discover religious holidays one by one, on my own… which isn’t a bad way to build one’s spiritual life. I’ve had a lifelong fascination with Catholocism, but can’t fully embrace it. Nor do I have any desire to cling to the fervor of Mormonism, the only other religion I know much about. Instead, I find that certain practices and threads of conviction weave through what has become a very eclectic spiritual life. Like many, I’ve had to consider carefully the traditions and symbolism of religious observations, and make my own connections with them based on their metaphorical significance.
Today is Shrove Tuesday — in some places that means Carnival or Mardi Gras, but here in England it means Pancake Day. How fantastic is that? Pancake Day! Apparently it began as a practical tactic for using up the eggs and butter before beginning the Lenten fast. Like Carnival, it is a final day of fun and feasting; schoolchildren run pancake races and mums fry up thin cakes and serve them for tea with butter and lemon.
With typical artistic and cultural license, we will be having a lovely puffy baked pancake that we cook with apples, brown sugar, and lemon juice. To go with it, we’re going to heat up the last of the bacon-wrapped sausages that we saved (in the freezer) from Christmas. The pancake is a variation of what our family used to call Hootenanny Pancakes, but still ties in nicely enough with the English tradition. Gluttons can serve it with pure maple syrup, but trust me, that really isn’t necessary!
Kimberly’s Shrove Tuesday Hootenanny Pancake
Heat oven to 350; put 2T butter in an 8″ glass baking dish and place in oven for 10 minutes
Peel and slice 1 apple. Toss with juice of 1 lemon and 2 T brown sugar. Set aside.
Mix in blender: 1/2 cup milk, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup flour, and a pinch of salt. Pour into hot melted butter. Arrange apples on top and pour lemon/brown sugar mixture over the top. Pop into oven and bake for 25 minutes or until puffy and golden. Serve immediately — on its own or with powdered sugar or maple syrup.
Serves 2 generously
I share this practice with you, not so much as spiritual edification but as a soul-satisfying prelude to the seriousness of Lent, which begins tomorrow — balance in all things! For me, though, it goes deeper than balance. While I generally spin in my own little universe of meaning, I thrive on connecting with a broad spiritual community in which traditions, rituals, and practices weave colour and texture into life’s tapestry. As I make our pancake, I’ll be thinking of the threads that connect me to all the others around the world who are preparing for the next phase of their spiritual calendars.