Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ash Wednesday

Tomorrow, March 5, is Ash Wednesday. Lent is about to begin. Many people don't particularly like the season but it's one of my favorites and Ash Wednesday is a day I really appreciate. I actually thrill to the words: "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return," as my forehead is marked with the ashes. This isn't because I'm being morbid. It's more because it's a "reality check" - I'm human; my life on earth is finite. The unspoken declaration that it it is not so with God and that that the immortal, everlasting God can and will lift me from the constraints of my humanity hangs in the air beside the spoken words. And I feel an uplifting of my spirit.

Part of the reality check of Ash Wednesday is also that I am a sinner. Now, I know the ideas of sin and unworthiness are not very fashionable at present. But I find it a relief to admit that I'm not perfect, could do better, and that God knows that, yet still loves me and will lift me up. Ash Wednesday is, for me, a call to look at myself honestly, to start again, all the while knowing that it is that very honesty, authenticity, trust in God and a determination to persevere, even when things seem difficult, which are leading me towards God.

Yes, the ashes remind that I'm human and a sinner, but they also remind me that I'm a sinner on the path to finding God, the God who turns sins to ashes because, in the end, God is greater, stronger and more loving than my failings.

Karen Rose, OSB

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