Blessed Ash Wednesday, all. Today is one of those days that weighs heavy on many. I see people in church on this day whom I don’t see the entire rest of the year.
Every year, I think about why. I think is has to do with the burdens we all carry as the very reality of being a human being, alive, on this planet. I wrote a few reflections about this here.
It’s curious to me why we need this recognition of our humanity. After all, there’s already enough pain, despair, disappointment, failure in this world. We can’t avoid it even if we try. What’s the help in going over and over it again? Why add to the messages we already hear loud, loud and clear every single day: missed the mark . . . not good enough . . . failed again . . . can’t seem to get it right no matter how hard she tries . . . so disappointing.
Wouldn’t it be better to skip the dust altogether . . . to focus instead on all the perfection we aspire to? Maybe if we try, instead we can spend our time on positive thinking . . . remembering everything we hope to accomplish, how, if we keep trying hard enough we can rise above all the dustiness of being human and shine, shine with all the good potential we’re sure is in there somewhere?No. No.
And, here’s why:
The ashes mark us as human beings who, in our human living, break and hurt and crumble a little from time to time. That’s just the truth about being human. So when we take the ashes
we’re really saying to the world outside . . . pardon our dust. We acknowledge our humanness. Let us be for just a little while, who we really, really are.
Because when we do, then we can remember that even in the real, gritty, dusty, crumbling reality of who we are, that we are loved and cherished, beloved creations of the one who dreamed our very lives into being and celebrates us today, just as we are.