Ash Wednesday

I don't come from a Catholic - or even a Christian - background, but I love Ash Wednesdays. I like to see people walk around campus with the sign of the cross smudged across their foreheads.

We live in an age of such cynicism and anxiety that it's heartening for me to know there are still people with the faith and confidence to believe. Even if their beliefs are different from mine and, in some cases, not entirely accepting of me. These students weren't trying to impose their beliefs on me. They were just pious individuals, practicing their faith in peace, and I find that encouraging.

So, to those who practice and those who don't, have a great Lent season. I hope you find what you're looking for.


On a completely different note, look how my blog gets neglected when the semester gets busy. More updates soon. I wish I had more time for creativity.

1 comment:

J said...

My dilemma on Ash Wednesday every year is whether or not I ought to wash off the ashes immediately after the service. The Gospel reading for Ash Wednesday is a passage about how, when fasting, one ought not to go about in public proclaiming that one is fasting, or to otherwise engage in public declarations of one's piety.

On the other hand, that passage was from a different time. In this secular age, it can be very important and empowering for people of faith to have, from time to time, visible and public markers of their faith.

(This year, I washed them off, less for theological reasons than because I was going on a 7-mile run, and didn't want ash-filled sweat getting into my eyes. And also I was conferencing with students that afternoon, and I try to avoid even the appearance of proselytizing.)

The other interesting thing about Ash Wednesday is how many people show up--scads of people who otherwise don't really observe Lent (or Easter, for that matter) come to services on Ash Wednesday. There's something very, very powerful about the ashes--they're a reminder of our mortality, of our sinfulness, etc.--and something powerful about having them there on your forehead as you go about your day.

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