“Ma’am, you have dirt on your head.”
Ahh yes. It never fails. Every year on Ash Wednesday I hear something similar. Every year. When I was a kid, I remember I would bee-line into the bathroom at Holy Name of Jesus School to quickly scrub my ashes off. I mean…someone could see me with dirt on my head! (Even though there were 700 other kids who had “dirt” on their head)
I never really “got it” until I grew up.
“Remember you are dust and as dust you shall return.” That’s the moment I get chills. It’s a humbling reminder of life. And here I am on another Ash Wednesday, being given ANOTHER second chance by God to “do right.” A new year. A clean slate.
I got a little emotional in the pew today. No wait…let me re-phrase that…I had tears streaming down my face. Images and moments of this past year kept flashing in my mind. It was a tough year. A roller coaster. The highs were unbelievable! But the lows were devastating and unbearable. Thoughts of my beloved grandmother and uncle overwhelmed me.
I found this description of Ash Wednesday that sums it up in real-world talk.
“I’m a sinner. I don’t always love God as strongly as I could or as directly as I should. Ash Wednesday reminds me that it is only through God that I have life; He gave it to me. Ash Wednesday also begins my preparation for Holy Week and the Passion and Resurrection of my Lord, Jesus, without Whom I have no life here and no chance at eternal life in Heaven. This is just a great opportunity for me to get better. God forgives. He loves. And He gives this sinner a second chance.”