On ashes and pastries

This week marked the beginning of the season of Lent.  We made King Cakes at work for Fat Tuesday, and one of my coworkers brought in paczkis.  On Wednesday they were distributing ashes at the train station or on the corner of Lake Street, but I went to an Ash Wednesday service at our local Episcopal Church.  It happen to be a family service, geared toward children, which made my Ash Wednesday meditation funny, disruptive, and refreshingly simplistic.  It didn't exactly match the spirit of quiet and penitence I was seeking, but it was real, authentic and communal.  I followed a five year old to the altar to receive ashes.  The words of the ashes always have a strong affect on me:

"Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

I am forever humbled by my humanness, by my imperfection and my constant denial of it. It's good to remember how we were created and why were created, out of a love that surpasses understanding.  And that despite all the dust and ashes and wrongdoing in between, He called it good.

You can strip this week of all the traditions and practices and silly pastries, and it is just another week in February.  It is the end of a season and the beginning of another.  It is six weeks before Easter.  But all that aside, something stirred within me this week.  I have been made startlingly self-aware, waking up with what I have done or left undone heavy on my heart.  My short-comings have reminded me that I am but dust, dependent on my Maker, and it is by grace that I live and breath.  

"Having nothing, and yet possessing everything."

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