Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
Ash Wednesday is upon us once again. Easter is early this year ~ March 31st.
So, you may ask ~ what’s this Ashes thing”
We Catholics like symbols. (So does Harry Potter.)
What are ashes about?
What can they tell us about life? And death? And reality?
When the priest smears ashes on the penitent’s forehead he says one of two poignant phrases:
REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE DUST AND UNTO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN,
or REPENT AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL.
So, it’s a sign of humility, a sign that we are part of the earth, that we are dust.
Are we to reflect and ask ~ Are we just dust?
Have made an ash-heap of our life
Are we sitting in an ash-heap?
Is there nothing but ruin, smoldering embers around us?
If so, do we despair?
Or can we dream of re-building?
Whether or not, the answers to these questions apply to us literally, it is important to humble ourselves before our God.
They could very well be true at any moment of our life. There but for the grace of God go I.
I was searching for a song about ashes and I found one by the Rock group Rev Theory in their song The Fire.
Here’s an excerpt of the lyrics; they seem to know this:
Tell me that I’m hopeless
Tell me I’m a lost and wayward son
Tell me that I’m callous
Tell me that our life is too forgone
So take a breath and brace yourself
Tell me I’m a lost soul
Tell me I’ve one foot in the grave
Tell me that I’m shallow
Tell me it’s enough to keep you awake
So take a breath and brace yourself
Coz tonight this could be the last chance before we die
Can we rise again from the ashes?
In this final moment
Is the fire still alive?
Notice these guys are dealing with the same issues here.
Of being lost; of needing a change. And, amazingly, they use the metaphor of ashes and ask if the fire is still alive.
What is the fire for them? Love? Creativity? The Holy Spirit perhaps?
But for us, Lent is a season of hope that ends in new life, in risen life.
It’s a time to TURN AROUND ~ to make a U-turn ~ when we realize our life has gone in the wrong direction.
That’s what the word conversion means. To simply do a U-turn.
Turn around and head in a different direction.
Get going again.
CHANGE, so you don’t keep on doing the same old thing and expecting different results.
Or of just renewing and deepening our commitments. Or just deepen our fervor.
I have a little bone to pick with Catholics who show up on Ash Wednesday, get a smudge of ashes on their forehead without the slightest intention of doing what they symbolize: CHANGE.
Don’t just give up something for Lent. Get at the root of your life where you need to look at the real stuff.
I invite you to go deeper into the practice of your religion.
Make the sign Mean Something!
Let it transform you from inside out.
The question is: Do we ~ you and I ~ have the COURAGE TO CHANGE?
So, let’s do Lent well — together.
During Lent, be ready to walk with Jesus to Jerusalem.
Find out who this Jesus is ~ for you.
And what wisdom he has to offer us that will help us to change.
It seems Rev Theory are on their way to it already.
Whether you are Catholic or not, perhaps you will find some wisdom,
some meaning for your life in these pages. Join us as we walk the journey together
as Jesus did — through suffering to death to new and risen life these six weeks of Lent 2013.
God of pardon and of love,
Mercy past all measure,
You alone can grant us peace,
You, our holy treasure.
Now here’s Rev Theory’s ~ The Fire Click Here. Be sure to enter full screen but if you’re not used to rock music DON”T turn up your speakers.
Friday ~ The Jesus I know and Love