Ash Wednesday

My Ash Wednesday

“You are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  A sobering moment in a world torn asunder.   After more than 2 years of not going to church anymore, I felt compelled to get ashes today.  Maybe it was watching all the horrors in Ukraine on BBC, or the Pope saying we should  fast and pray for Ukraine.  My forehead was craving that smudged black cross that says “I am marked in spirit.” 

Memories of Ash Wednesdays from years past flash before me.  My father always said, ”Treat people right.   Don’t look down on anyone as being less than you and do not be overly impressed with people.    Nobody is better or worse than you, so do not be intimidated by those you admire.  Remember that in the end we all wind up the same-dust.”  I often think of this after I get my ashes and I am reminded that it will all end in dust, just like my Dad said.   I see my mother with her black lace mantilla fastened to her head with a bobby pin to be sure it did not fall off in the presence of God.   

Then my mind skips a beat to the year I spent in Germany.  The song “Mit Aschen Mittwoch ist alles vorbei” starts playing in my head.  With Ash Wednesday, it’s all over…. Say goodbye to the good times, that is what Mardi Gras is all about- the last hurrah before the onset of lent, a solemn time.  The statues in the church are covered; no weddings or baptisms can take place.  We enter a time of melancholy and repentance.  And then I start thinking about Ukraine……

How many families are fasting because they are terrified to leave shelters, or because no markets are open.  I heard a father today say that he and his wife were fasting to preserve the little bit of food they had for their three year old.  Yet all the people I see enduring this crisis have spirits that soar like eagles in the wind.   From the brokenness and destruction that have turned landscape and dreams alike into  dust, we see a people emboldened to rise up defiantly, and fight for their freedom and their souls among the ashes of their former lives.-  Sorry Dad, but I have to be impressed with them, and yes I hold them up high in reverence and esteem, even awe,  for they have come as close as possible to staring death in the eye and walking away triumphant in spirit and with hearts overflowing with sunflowers.

4 thoughts on “Ash Wednesday

  1. How lovely to tie together these memories, and to bring in the present day fasting that comes not from reverence for the day but the necessity of saving food. I didn’t get ashes today (and didn’t celebrate Fat Tuesday yesterday), but reading this reminder about the history and reality of this day, this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello friend,
    So glad I found you here!!! I fondly remember sitting at Northside Social so I could help you set up yor blog.
    I loved meeting your dad today in your slice. Such wise words. I also almost went to get ashes. Instead, I wore BLUE and YELLOW and an 8th grader gave me a sunflower pin to wear! I am really shaken by this news. Your words were good for me to read. Thanks for writing them and sharing them. So glad you are here!! I hope we can have an ORANGE PARTY at the end of March to celebrate! I’ll be in touch!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sally, such a warm feeling to hear from you. You are the whole reason I am here writing and it has brought so much into my life.. Not sure how to take a picture and post it here but I am looking at the sheet you made up for me at Northside- that is how I managed to get back in even this year as I could not exactly remember what to do- but your directions saved me. Thank you!
      Love picturing you in blue and yellow, all of our hearts are breaking more and and more each day, right? What a sweet gesture from your 8th grader. A good friend of mine, who was one of my bridesmaid’s what feels like centuries ago- is Ukrainian as well as Scott’s aunt and through them especially my friend Luba who emigrated here after fleeing Ukraine with her family following the end of world war II, I have become acquainted with Ukrainian culture over the years and interacted with the Ukrainian community. I understand their love of country and pride even more now- they have been under siege of one type of another throughout their history. What is happening now is on a scale that kills the spirit, just unbearable. Sorry, trying to end on a positive note. Happy to be in touch with you again and so thankful for your help and guidance.

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