Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday - Sweet Relief

"Isn't it crazy to think that the minute we are born we start dying, " I said to my 18 year old son.  Without hesitating, he replied, "Yes, but we are also living."  My kids are used to me winging out all kinds of statements. That moment was no exception.  And it pretty sums up Ash Wednesday for me. There is a raw honesty to the words that perfectly describe my body's fragility and the gratitude to be breathing today.  My nursing and pastoral work means I've seen a lot of death. My loss of two fathers brings the grief close to home.  I said to my daughter recently that if we knew we were dying tomorrow the beauty of today would look really different.  She said (with patient affection), "Mom, it's so you to say that kind of thing."

The things that I tell my kids spout out randomly.  It's like me trying to figure out how to live in those realities but feeling so far from being able to it.  Ash Wednesday frees me up just a little.  I'm reminded that the reality of utter dependence and lack of control is true.  It's not something to figure out or live into.  It just, simply, IS.  So today I'll hear the words and receive the ashes as gift and reminder that control is an illusion.  

There's this great sound and feeling when the ashes are put on my forehead. I can feel the grit and hear the sound. It's earthy and stark. It's the paradox of dying while living and living while dying - time bending to expand.  It's sweet relief from striving, from lack of discipline, from the mess of life, while acknowledging the beauty of it. 

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

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