Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. By the grace of God, another Lent begins. Forty days from ashes to Easter.
There’s a way in which Lent is a bit like New Year’s. That is, we tend to make some resolutions or commitments to stop doing/ eating/ saying some things. Or maybe to start doing/ eating/ saying/ praying some other things. We may begin with high hopes, a smudge of ash and a flourish of resolve, but forty days is long enough to burn through initial enthusiasm and any boot strap pulling. At least I have found that to be the case.
So we discover, again, this is not all about us nor our zeal for self-improvement. Keeping Lent is a God thing. We turn to and call upon a power not our own as we try to go a little deeper, to be a bit more honest with ourselves, and little more decent/ kind toward others. God working through us. Christ working in us. And the Holy Spirit all around. To God be the glory!
Here’s a lovely, little “Ash Wednesday” poem by the late Brian Doyle.
Here’s your Ash Wednesday story.
A mother carries her tiny daughter
With her as she gets ashed and the
Girl, curious and wriggly, squirms
Into the path of the priest’s thumb
Just as the finger is about to arrive
On the mother’s forehead, and the
Ashes go right in the kid’s left eye.
She starts to cry, and there’s a split
Second as the priest and the mother
Gawk, and then they both burst out
Laughing. The kid is too little to be
Offended, and the line moves along,
But this stays with me; not the ashy
Eye as much as the instant when all
Could have been pain and awkward
But instead it led to mutual giggling.
We are born of dust and star-scatter
And unto this we shall return, this is
The Law, but meantime, by God, we
Can laugh our asses off. What a gift,
You know? Let us snicker while we
Can, brothers and sisters. Let us use
That which makes dark things quail.
Perhaps an Ash Wednesday intention could be more laughter and so to make “dark things quail.”
May you find pilgrims with whom to walk the way, and may yours be a blessed Lent.