Thursday, February 18, 2010

Beware of the Ash

I didn't grow up in a church that did Ash Wednesday services or Lent. It wasn't until college that I saw people staggering around in the wee hours (OK, 10 am, but for us then it was the wee hours) with dirt on their faces. I was utterly confused. It wasn't until I saw like five people that I even realized they were supposed to be crosses. I then became scared. You see there was this group on campus that was well known for being cultish and so I suspiciously looked around for white vans and a group of men in plaid shirts and women in long denim skirts. I was bracing myself to be stuffed into the back of one, forcibly, and have dirt smeared on me with some freakish chant said over me. (OK, I had an over-active imagination, but they did 'get' a friend of mine who started talking different and said she couldn't 'see' us anymore.) For the next few years every Ash Wednesday I would dart around campus fretfully avoiding those with ash crosses marked on their heads. One could never be too careful.
Then I married the love of my life and low and behold he went to a church that had an Ash Wednesday service. By then I had calmed down a bit and even heard from a few sensible people who were not wearing too much plaid or denim and assured me that it was a sweet thing. Like showing the world: hey y'all me and Jesus are BFFs! That was the sunny version you see. I still did not get the dust part. Or the death. So my first ash wednesday service was last year. It was all so new I just experienced it rather than really learned much from it. This year, being a veteran and all mind you, it struck me that they say to you: dust you are and to dust you return. Maybe some day I will figure out what that means but for this Easter season I will be pondering on that (in between the poopy diapers and what not.) I don't know if it is all just about death but maybe, also, remembering where you come from? We are made of the same stuff and some day poof! We'll be gone. The stuff in between matters. We can either go out into this dark world, marked by the One who Loves and try to love others for Him or we can dart around them avoiding them at all costs.
Though I am giving up something for Lent the focus this time is what I am gaining by doing so. I hope to gain moments with others, bits of time to converse and love my brothers and sisters a bit better this season.

(Oh, and a short prayer request, baby CJ has RSV real bad and it breaks my heart hearing that little one cough like that. )

1 comment:

  1. It is pretty weird having ashes one your head. I asked a priest once why we Catholics did it when Jesus said not to show when we were fasting. The priest thought for a moment and looked at me and then said, "What a great question." Um, thanks. That cleared nothing up.

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