Wearing the Way it Is

Posted: March 1, 2017 in Uncategorized

ash-wednesday-7Everyone knows what Mardi Gras is; the last hurrah before the Lenten fast, the final excess before introspective restraint, the dark side on parade before it goes underground. Or more particularly, Shrove Tuesday is the day on which the pantry and fridge are cleaned out before heading out into the forty day wilderness of the spirit.

Ash Wednesday is the lead-off batter of that procession of days, setting the pace and tone. On this most uncomfortable day of the year a smattering of Christians dare to gather and listen to unvarnished words about mortality, brokenness and sin. Then somewhere among confession and reliance on the grace of God they submit to having the burned leaves from last Palm ash-wednesday-3Sunday smeared on their foreheads. Some of them sport the dark sign of the cross for hours. As they come and go in public some think they must have forgotten to wash up that morning.

But deep down this small little gaggle of Christians bears a story and a condition for all to see. In the first place the ashes testify that everything you know is temporary so don’t be tempted to pitch your tent on shifting sand. In the second place they remind us that we’ve made a mess of way too much in our lives. These are the two truths you can’t miss if you walk through the doors of an Ash Wednesday service. And it’s the same reason why so many people don’t walk through those doors.

It’s really not the case that Lent sends us on a forty day journey. Rather, Lent names a journey we’reash-wednesday-6 already on. And when we dare to dramatize it yet again we locate ourselves on the map: You are here. Sometimes that feels pretty good and sometimes not. But we are here and not somewhere else. God is always where we are, even and especially in the wilderness places, wandering around with ashes on our faces and navigating by nothing more than faith.

 

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Comments
  1. Juana says:

    Beautiful, and purely true. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Barb says:

    Beautiful! I don’t know what it says about me, but Ash Wednesday through Good Friday and on into the majestic celebration of Easter has always been the season of greatest meaning to me. Perhaps it is because my family did something special each Lenten season, attending 7:00 a.m. Wednesday communion services – followed by a breakfast of church donuts (what a sneaky reinforcer!). However, even in high school when I decided to fast every Wednesday in Lent (and hence, no donuts!), it stirred me to the depths of my being. Advent is over-shadowed by consumerism and too much doing. It’s difficult to quiet the noise to fully reflect on the mystery. Lent begins in Winter and ends in Spring. So much can happen in the soil of the soul.

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