Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. It is important for me, because each year I look at my own spiritual life and if I am being honest, I realize I’ve become lax and lazy spiritually. I know what it takes to feed my soul and I do work at it year round, but Ash Wednesday is like my annual physical when I step on the Doctor’s scale and realize I an not where I want to be.
This self assessment comes with a ritual that is like a light in the darkness. The imposition of ashes. When the gritty ashes are rubbed on my forehead and I hear the words, “remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” it reminds me of the inevitable conclusion to this mortal life.
I’m mortal. I’m not just mortal, but I am an aging mortal who is closer to the end of his journey than he is to the beginning. It is the type of thing which sounds really depressing, but for me it is comforting. Like the ashes on my head one day this body will be ash. (In my case that is literally true since I have requested to be cremated!)
It gives me perspective and it gives me peace. I didn’t exist for a very long time, now I exist and someday I will not exist any more. This creation will continue, history will go one without me. I am a small part of God’s creation and not the center of everything. The inevitable end to my life is in God’s hands. God created me and this universe from nothing and someday it will all return to God.
It gives me peace. Being born, living and dying are all part of God’s plan. Ash Wednesday tells me God has a plan and that plan includes me. Birth, life, death and resurrection like the hours on a clock are what it means to be human and what being God’s creation really means.