[ LENT ] Ash Wednesday :: reflections

A week ago we started Lent, like every year we started it with Ash Wednesday. I have 2 reflections of Ash Wednesday 2010

IMG_0560[Reflection #1] JACK :: it was his first Ash Wednesday service. I carried him in my arms as i went down to get the imposition of ashes reminding me from dust i have come and to dust i will return. As i knelt to receive the ashes with my 6 week old son in arm my pastor, Father Thomas McKenzie says, “Want me to get him?” Pointing at Jack. My response was, “Sure, why not.” And ashes were applied. Kinda fitting… from ashes we came, right! And I thought the picture was AWESOME as well.

[Reflection #2] When I lived in California my friend Nate had a boat and this got him into some really interesting situations, and sometimes he invited me along.

One of the more interesting situations was with his neighbor, well actually his neighbors friend. We will call him Bill. Bill’s dad had died and he had been sitting on his ashes for a couple years. His dad has said he wanted to have his ashes spread over the sea. Lucky enough Bill lived in Oceanside CA but he didn’t have a boat to make it happen. And this is where and Nate comes in. Apparently Bill had been talking about wanting to get rid of his dad’s ashes, probably as he and said neighbor were smoking pot in the garage, but who knows. Well Nate’s neighbor said, I know a guy who has a boat. Nate said he would do it and decided he needed backup.

So we’re in this boat and Bill is telling us about his dad and how he was actually a bastard (bill’s words now mine) for most of his life. How he wasn’t close to his, didn't really even like him but how he somehow ended up with his ashes anyhow. He kept ranting about the negative qualities of his father and he didn’t want to end up like him. Bill made a point to tell us that neither he nor his dad were religious but he thought someone should say something “religious”. And Nate, the good friend he is, having boated us 30 min off the coast says, “Erik…” And nods his head at me. That's called putting a friend on the spot.

So here I am, watching Bill, who i just met, let the ashes of his dead father slip through his fingers, some of them blowing into the ocean and some of them blowing back onto his shirt, wanting someone to say something “religious” about his father…

All I could think of was Ash Wednesday and “From ash we came and to ashes we will return.”

Lent is a season of self-examination, thinking about who we are and hoping that there is some way to be raised from this life of death and decay we find ourselves living every day. The struggles and the bent toward our self and our desires, Lent is the season for self-mortification so that we can somehow participate in the resurrection that we are anticipating and are preparing for, that is Easter.

I was able to tell Bill that from ashes we came and to ashes we will return. Our lives are fleeting and we only a little time in between to live well.

This Lent I am looking inward so that I can live outward as I participate in the resurrection, here and how!

Grace, peace, and ashes Erik