Over the airwaves, through the internet, to humbling ourselves we shall go. The mark of the cross with ashes on ones forehead, or in some cases the back of one’s hand are seen as a sign of humility and perhaps this day they really are.
“You have been to church”, notes a store clerk.
Or, more likely, “what is that smudge on your forehead for?”
Today, in an age where fewer and fewer people are attending churches, attendance at worship is more of an oddity, and the rituals of Ash Wednesday, well their understanding is missed entirely. Whole generations of people are growing up without the influence of church in their lives. Or, where there is an influence, it is understood in a way that does not resemble the teachings of Jesus.
The church is understood as too hypocritical, too judgmental, anti-gay, negative, and boring. Traditions and rituals with deep meaning and profound significance are passed over, or rushed through without any thought.
This is a day to begin thinking, reflecting on what it might mean to be humbled, it is a day to reflect on the fact that we will one day simply return to the dust of the earth from which we came. What mark on the world do we wish to leave? We have nourished and nurtured the earth in our brief time here, with our ideas, our compassion, and our thoughts. What have we said? We have fed those around us throughout life and we will continue to feed them in our death by the impact we have had on their lives and then, one day, the substance of which we are made will feed another generation.
Think about it. Each of us is part of that eternal cycle. Each of us will leave our mark.
Ponder that these forty days of Lent and give to yourself the gift of a blessing. Know that you are of God and that you will return to nurture, humbly possibly, as the ashes on someone’s forehead, in the next generation.