As I write this we’ve just started the season of Lent: Shrove Tuesday, the day on which, traditionally, the faithful were ‘shriven’, that is, made their confession and received absolution although now it’s little more than a plateful of pancakes. The confession side of things has, over the years, slipped into Ash Wednesday. I wonder how typical the Sky News presenter was, who poked fun of the footage of the US Vice President who was interviewed with a cross of ash on his forehead which she took to be a bruise and urged the reporter to find out what he’d bumped into in the White House.
I came across the following, although I’m afraid I don’t know the name of the author, but I thought it would be good to share. Writing about Ash Wednesday, they conclude:
‘They are a curious thing, ashes; they are terrible and remarkable by turns.
‘Ashes come as a reminder of the ways that humans across history have been horrible to one another, of how we have, with an awful finesse, reduced to literal ashes one another’s homes, buildings, cities, histories, and very bodies.
‘Ashes can also be a thing of wonder. This day in the Christian year, this day of ashes, tells us that ashes — dust, dirt, earth — are the stuff from which we have been made, and to which we will return. This day, and the season it heralds, seeks to ground us, to make us mindful of the , the humility, the earthiness of which our bones and flesh are made. And yet, in the midst of this, the season calls us to open ourselves to the God who brings life from ashes, who works wonders amid destruction, who cries out and grieves in the presence of devastation and terror, and who breathes God’s own spirit into the rubble. It is this God who breathes into , calling our awful and glorious ash-strewn selves to speak words of life and freedom.’
Lent is often used by people to give something up, or to take something on; a period of soul searching and repentance as we prepare for the joy of Easter by giving ourselves a spiritual check up. May you find Christ’s peace this Lenten season and be reminded of God’s love for those into whom he breathed the spark of life.
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