Friday, February 19, 2010


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I know it's Company Girl Coffee Friday, but I haven't had the chance yet to make a post about my thoughts on Ash Wednesday. And now I just read my sister-in-law's Coffee post where she talks about Lent as well. We like Lent in this family.

We do, really, and that's why my husband and I were both disappointed that we would not be able to make it to church for our Ashes. I managed to work out some fairly good planning of meals to accommodate pancakes on Tuesday and no meat Wednesday and today (though I've been told three "weird" meals in a week are too many), but as far as church went, I had to work 7a-7p and Brice was in class/working all day. Long story short about what happened that day: I ran directly into a priest coming out of a patient's room (dressed in full garb with a giant cross on his forehead--it really was like something out of a movie where the character is about to do something bad and is reminded of it even more by someone representing God or their conscience). He offered me ashes right there and my day was completely better. Of course, unfortunately, then I proceeded to make the other women I work with feel badly for not going to church.

Why were the ashes so important to so many of us? I read a couple of years back that Ash Wednesday (along with Palm Sunday) is one of the most highly attended Masses/services of the church calendar. And what do those two have in common? Free stuff--ashes and palms. Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation--and yet, people cannot stay away from it. People, by nature, love free stuff. In this article I read, a priest said he actually had parishoners call the church office to ask when the ashes would be distributed and could they just duck in and out during that time? But to move away from the idea that it is the greedier church-goers who love their ashes, let's call them a gift.

There are many individuals, like myself, who really treasure gifts. According to the Five Languages of Love, I have a high score in the gift area. While others may disagree, I don't think I'm a material person. To me it's about the symbolism of the gift, the giver. I always liked looking around my room as a teenager and seeing all the pieces of my friends.

And to people like me who like our symbols, we really enjoy having those ashes. Even though I tend to forget that I have them on, I like what it represents about me to others. I had a few people give me weird looks which I interpreted to mean I was having a really good hair day, until I remembered my ashes. Before anyone gets the wrong idea that I like wearing my ashes to have others think what a good person I am, let me clear that up: I like receiving my ashes because I take the words "remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return" to heart and I like wearing my ashes in very public places because that cross on our foreheads represents that we are people of faith. Since this isn't something people usually discuss at work anymore, or with perfect strangers in stores, this cross on our foreheads gives us a chance to see an obvious symbol that there's someone right there we have something in common with.

Isn't that cool? I sure think it is when I run into someone else on Ash Wednesday with ashes and I think they do too. Have you ever done it yourself? You and another person with ashes make eye contact, and even though you may not talk, or maybe you are speaking to them only about something work related, you can see in both pairs of eyes that you've made a connection. You both know that you're together on something. And later on, you'll remember that in the workplace and maybe, just maybe, it will hold both of you accountable to one another in your actions and the way you treat each other and everyone else.


  1. Of course we love Lent. What's not to love about Lent? Oh, wait...

    Funny, I never knew that about Palm Sunday and Ash Wednesday. I get what you mean about having the ashes be a signal to other believers. It was like that for me in college, to an extent. I've always had small workplaces so we all knew a lot about our personal lives and the ashes were never any kind of revelation.

  2. I am a died in the wool Baptist and never had a clue about ash Wednesday until I started teaching at a Catholic School. The first year, I almost rubbed them off someone's know, as a favor! Have a blessed season of lent!


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