Thursday, February 26, 2009

Remembering the ashes

I vaguely remember as an adult, the first Ash Wednesday I was marked with ashes. It was a moving moment for me - a humbling, holy moment. After the service, I went directly home and absent mindedly caught my reflection in a mirror. Instantaneously, I thought - what's that?!.....How quickly one can forget the mark! How quickly non-humble consciousness returns.

I felt the same way yesterday, not having yet received my ash cross, when I spied a woman pulling into a parking lot space near mine - "oh dear," my mind blurted, "that woman is terribly disfigured!" Oh, where is my consciousness, where is the power of memory? I wonder sometimes why I was given the luxury of memory and free will!

So as I received the ash mark and heard the words, from dust you were born, to dust you will return, I prayed for not only the humbling and holy experience of receiving the blessed ashes but also for the wisdom and strength to carry those words through the season of Lent - remembering the momentary cosmetic disfigurement and the mark of remembrance from whence I came and will return.

I pray that my Lenten journey and yours as well, may be filled with remembrance of the ashes' declaration and the promise that Lent brings us as we wander some 40 days in the wilderness, while attempting to focus on what is important in our mortal life.

Photo-SS Kapalua Coast Trail, Maui


  1. i experienced my first marking with ashes last night. it was a ceremony of mixed emotions. i did not hear the words "from dust you were born, to dust you will return," but more words of repentance...i wrestle with what repentance means to me and what the old voices tell me it "should" mean. it would have been easier to hear "from dust to dust." ah, but this journey is not about the easy was is it?

  2. Lucy - it's certainly not! Well, repentance is certainly a theme in the Episcopal church. (In what place were you marked with ashes?) Rereading the the prayer of repentance just now, repentance for me has to do with my sincere prayer to be forgiven of all the sins of commission and omission - sounds simple enough doesn't it? I look forward to hearing more about your experience.