“A Day Set Aside”

Today is Ash Wednesday in Christian churches around the world. The officiant, using ashes, marks the sign of the Cross on each parishioner’s forehead. Then one hears either(in my church) “Repent and believe in the Gospel” or the more familiar “remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The ashes themselves are made from burning the fronds from last year’s Palm Sunday service. Ours are mixed with blessed oil, leaving them somewhat tenacious to anyone wishing to quickly remove them. And it does seem to take a degree of bravery these days in the United States to go through the day with a black cross on the forehead.

Being told to repent and turn to the Gospels for how to live and love certainly challenges the bumper sticker “he who dies with the most toys wins.” It similarly refutes the current blame and shame rampant in our culture. And what young “influencer” wants to hear that she is dust?

But I am grateful for both reminders. I am far from perfect and, like the electric train of my childhood, I sometimes need to be put back on the track to run smoothly. In a congregate setting it is immensely reassuring to realize everyone around me is acknowledging the same truth. As for dust? We may be more comfortable with the promises of plastic surgery and joint replacements but deep down we know the statement is true. So, knowing that, how should I conduct myself?

I return tomorrow with my series on access to information and the current political debates about it here. Today is one set aside for contemplation.

15 thoughts on ““A Day Set Aside”

  1. Ash Wednesday is mainly associated with Catholics here. I remember when I lived in London seeing people walking around with ash marks on their faces. I had to ask someone why that was, and I was 24 at the time. As you can tell, I did not come from a religious family.
    Best wishes, Pete.


  2. I couldn’t go to church (Lutheran) today, but I watched the service on line. The dog didn’t whimper when I sang the hymns. I could see the marks of the ashes on my friends’ faces and was with them in spirit.

    Liked by 1 person

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