On Ash Wednesday, Christians are encouraged to look into the darkness and face the grimness of what could have been. With each passing year, the weight of that darkness becomes more palpable to me. This year especially, as I think of my father’s death, as I consider the yawning void of his absence that greets my mother every morning in the house they shared for forty-nine years, the ashes of Ash Wednesday seem very real indeed.
Fortunately, thanks to God’s saving grace, we are not left in the ashes. We are invited out of the gloom and into the light.
Nearly every year I write about Ash Wednesday. At this point, I’ve said about all I can without redundancy. Last year’s post, Saved from the Ashes, covers the ground.
I can only add this bit of advice: confront the darkness of the day. Maybe, for the first time, attend a church service and get that smudge on your forehead. If you prefer, you may not even need to get out of your car; many churches are providing drive-by ashes these days. But think about what the smudge means. Only by looking into the ashes can we fully appreciate the opportunity to be lifted from the dust into new life.
And look around you. Chances are, the promise of spring is already at hand.