Some of you may have heard that I got to spend some time yesterday in Elevated Company. With the backing of American Citizens Abroad, the gentle urging of Professor Christians, and the help of a very nice person at the OECD I was able to attend a FATCA Briefing for government officials and business at the OECD Conference Center yesterday. It went very well and was a fascinating look at the nuts and bolts of this legislation, the progress being made in implementation, and the relationships among the stakeholders who were present. Interestingly enough when I arrived they told me I was exempt from the entry fee of 100 Euros because they deemed me to be a "journalist." I was rather surprised by that but, hey, I wasn't about to argue with them. Rest assured, I took lots of notes. I am working on cleaning them up and when I'm done I will publish them.
Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. I went in to Paris to attend Mass with my mother-in-law at Sainte Odile in the 17th. This is the church where I was married and where my Frenchlings were baptized. The priest who blessed the ashes and presided over today's Mass was the same priest who officiated at my wedding back in 1990 - 23 years ago.
I'm back home in Versailles now with the ashes on my forehead falling into my eyes. Tonight I will go to the Soeurs de Cenacle Center for an event called "Le Carême pour les Nuls" (Lent for Idiots).
Last year was a tough one but when I reflect on the sum of my life thus far I have a sense of wonder and gratitude. I've had more fun and opportunities then I probably deserved and I'm at a loss to explain why. I'm also painfully aware of the areas where I've come up short - "in what I have done and in what I have failed to do." Lent is the time to pay special attention to these things. It's not about cowering in fear and saying over and over what terrible terrible people we are - it is about appreciating all that we have been given, acknowledging that we are imperfect creatures in need of some help, and seeing clearly all the ways we could do better.
Coming face to face with one's own mortality just makes the exercise even more poignant this year. Some days there is such urgency inside me to get on the right trajectory and stay there. For as it was said today: "Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return."