Mardi Gras is here and that means it is Catholic party time! Enjoy the day, but don’t forget the best part of the part — the desert! Or is it the dessert?! I was reflecting on today’s Take Five for Faith and I inadvertently switched the “desert” in here to “dessert”.

Preparation is crucial for a meaningful celebration. Advent prepares us for Christmas, Lent prepares us for Easter, and Mardi Gras prepares us for Lent. These alternating seasons of quiet and celebration help us notice and appreciate the fact that God is found not only in austerity and prayer but also in music and celebration. As a result, we experience the sustaining presence of God in every aspect of our lives. A good Mardi Gras will help us have a good Lent. A good Lent, in turn, ensures a spiritually rich Easter, which is the ultimate goal. So go ahead and celebrate Mardi Gras today! Decorate your home, gather with friends, enjoy some good food. Tomorrow you enter the desert.

That’s right, I thought it said that tomorrow I enter the dessert. That to me sounded a lot better than entering the desert (or the dragon for that matter).

Desert and dessert seem to have such opposite meanings and so whether you are entering one or the other can make a HUGE difference! The desert is often used, though not terribly correctly, as a symbol of lifelessness, vastness, and oppressive conditions . It can seem hostile and unwelcoming. Desserts, on the other hand, are sweet, lush, and luxurious. We turn to them for comfort and for celebration.

And so now I am left with this curious image of Lent — how is it both desert and dessert? If that isn’t enough to blow one’s mind check this out — the word “dessert” is actually Middle French, from desservir to clear the table, from des-de- + servir to serve, from Latin servire (Merriam-Webster). So dessert might actually be an apt image for us during Lent — to take time to clear the table and to prepare to serve.

Tell us your thoughts on desert and dessert as you prepare for Lent!