I’m a fan of Ash Wednesday.
While it might seem odd to choose a holiday that is based in repentance and ashes as a fave — not many holy days have the ability to do the things that Ash Wednesday can bring to the
Ash Wednesday opens up the heart and mind to a completely different intimacy with God …. as compared to say, Easter or Christmas. At these times, it is easier to be happy and rejoice with God for what is happening in the church and the world and life and the season. The mood is happy and rejoicing by nature — resurrection and babies. Those are pretty spectacular things.
But Ash Wednesday has the power to allow God to comfort and love,
even especially as I realize that I’m not a perfect person. It has the ability to break me down and lift me up at the exact same time … and not a lot of services can do that effectively.
Imagine this real scenario that is a true account of last evening’s Ash Wednesday service — I think it illustrates my point…
At my church, we are allowed a choice of where to receive the ashes. While traditionally, the ashes are signed as a cross on the forehead, you are also able to choose to receive them on your hand.
In the past — I’ve chosen my hand.
[easier to hide, perhaps?]
Yet even today, at age 27, I found myself watching other people … I actually caught myself watching as other people went through the line to see where they chose to receive the ashes. Because — get this — I’m actually thinking that I don’t want to look stupid if most people get the ashes on their hand and I choose forehead. Here is my 7th-grade self all over again.
But I do catch myself in this thought process.
and ultimately I decided to get the ashes on my forehead as a breakdown in pride and silliness on my part. At the same time, it was very freeing to get the ashes on my forehead as symbol of where I come from and to where I shall return. A visible reminder that I am human and not God.
a very powerful feeling, to be sure.
I’m not sure other holidays are able to do that. but Ash Wednesday can.
and I need that.