“What day is it?” He stage whispered in the mostly empty sanctuary.
“It’s Wednesday,” I whispered back a bit quieter, hoping he would mimic my volume.
“But we don’t go to church on Wednesdays.” He wasn’t quiet, in case you wondered.
I snort-laughed. And then service began.
Despite the fact that some don’t want to wear the ashes and some believe that it’s just for Catholics (heads up: it’s not), my family made the trek to church — on a school night, no less — and walked forward to accept our ashes.
LittleBrother was the most excited. He followed along in the church program. “Are we here?” He pointed. I nodded. “It’s almost time for the ashes!” Quieter than before; his excitement evident in the way he paid attention, hung on the words of our Pastor.
And then it was time. We walked forward, his hand in mine; his brother’s hand in his father’s as they stood just in front of us. The two of them went first, and then it was our turn. Our Lady Pastor made the sign of the cross on my youngest son’s forehead and then said, as she said when she did the same to our older son, “A cross to remind you, child, that God loves you so much.”
Later, they stood in the mirror and looked at their crosses, talking and giggling and being children. I felt a lump in my throat as I thought about forgiveness and loving our neighbors and being more to one another, to the world. I am faced with the charge of using the Lenten season to teach my children a little more about being close to God, about living out faith through action, about sacrifice and unconditional love. Since becoming a parent, these seasons of our faith have more meaning, but also come with the weight of responsibility.
I found comfort in this quote:
A few wise words
Echoing through Ash Wednesday
Urge me to deeper things:
And mindful awareness.
I leave marveling
At how simple and sublime
Is this envelope of the soul,
Which one day returns
To dust, dust, only dust.
–From the poem, “The Echo of Ashes” by Joyce Rupp, in the book Out of the Ordinary: Prayers, Poems, and Reflections for Every Season
I pray this Lent will teach us something new, about ourselves; about our God.