Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gritty Ashes

Last night, I conducted an Ash Wednesday service to start our community's Lenten journey toward Easter. As I placed the sign of the cross on each person's forehead, I sensed that we were in a different realm of time for those few minutes. Then as the last person placed the ashes on my forehead, I felt the grit of burnt palm leaves and heard the traditional refrain: "From dust you came, and to dust you shall return." With a thumb against my brow I sensed a welcoming peace in the midst of my contemplation of death and mortality -- a reminder that in silence and no/thing, I am never alone.

Those gritty ashes are calling me to the secret prayer closet this Lent. I hope to continue being met in my moments of solitude with assurance -- assurance that my sisters and brothers here are with me and that Emmanuel is with me as I am tempted to question my identity in Christ, the Church and the World.

Lenten Blessings to You All,


Paul Corrigan said...

Thank you, Mark, for sharing with us about this Lenten moment.

Paul Corrigan said...

The ashes of Ash Wednesday, and the ritual of putting them on, are such a powerful image.

Rehoboth said...

Thank you, Mark. Yes, Paul, they are a powerful image; it is one that follows me all through Lent.

RC said...

Beautiful reflection! Thank you for sharing it. And thank you for living out this kind of spirituality and sharing it in your ministry. I am double encouraged and blessed!

John Orzechowski said...

Mark, thanks for sharing your reflection with us. I think the Ash Wednesday service is my favorite of the liturgical year. I appreciate your words that "in the midst of [our] contemplation of death and mortality" we find "a reminder that in silence and no/thing, [we are] never alone."

Sarah said...


I, too, felt this peace, this call into silence on Ash Wednesday. I think centering is peculiarly appropriate to Lent.

Anna said...

Mark, thanks for sharing this. It seems particularly meaningful that after you placed the sign of the cross on each person's forehead, the last person placed the ashes on your forehead--what a special experience to share in community--alone and not alone. Thanks again for your thoughtful reflection.
Blessings, Anna

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