Today is a conundrum for me. A day of decision. A day that leads to the cross for many is leading to a crossroad for me.
It’s Ash Wednesday, the day liturgical Christians recognize the beginning of Lent by going to church and receiving smudges of ash on their foreheads as they are reminded: “From dust thou art, to dust thou shall return.”
When I was a low church Protestant kid, I was mesmerized by the Catholic and Anglican kids who came to school with smudges on their foreheads, talking about ashes and Lent and giving up things and preparing for Easter. It seemed like a deep mystery, an ancient rite. My church didn’t have any mystery and was very suspicious of rites.
When I became an adult, I pursued the mystery, leaving my rite-less denomination for the smells and bells of the Roman church. My first Ash Wednesday was a really big deal. Getting smudged meant more than just “from dust to dust.” It meant I was entering Lent, which was the portico of my entrance into the church at the Easter vigil. When I would be a real legitimate member with all rights (and rites) and privileges. It was a very, very big deal.
I have always loved Ash Wednesday – the start of a period of reflection, of preparing, of forgiveness, of seeking holiness and searching for truth.
Now things are much different. Continue reading