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Lent begins today, forty days of sacrifice.

On Ash Wednesday as uniformed girls in

Catholic school we were given

boxes with forty pockets meant

to hold forty nickels. If we managed

to fill all of the pockets with nickels

we were entitled to purchase and name

a pagan baby!  What an extravagant prize!

A child a human being (even a pagan)

is by any measurement quite a prize.

My sister dutifully gave up her nickels

in exchange for a document

certifying that she had indeed

purchased and named a pagan baby.

She named the pagan baby Kathleen Marie

after me. Handily, all of us schoolchildren

had also learned to baptize any hapless

pagans in the unlikely event we

encountered one in Real Life.

My own nickels likely went the way

of Hershey’s semi-sweet chocolate bars.

I was never much good at Lent.

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