Every year, when Ash Wednesday comes around
I experience the same tension. 
Should I sport a massive ashen cross on my forehead or not?  For the past ten years that tension has
been relieved through an act of committing to my community.  Yesterday was no different.

As Gerald administered the ashes, he left
me marked with a massive cross on my forehead.  At six in the morning I was branded with the cross;
commissioned to take it up on this day. 
The cross would be with me throughout the day and would attract
curiosity, ridicule, questions and also a few nods of appreciation from fellow
cross-bearers. It forces me to think how I am embodying Jesus' command to take up the cross daily.

Every year, on Ash Wednesday, the cross looses its shape
throughout the day. I am a compulsive head scratcher and therefore I invariably
touch the cross smudging it.  At
the end of the day the cross becomes a black blob.  A circle.

As I reflect on this deformation on my
forehead, I think of how I deform the cross.  How we as followers of Jesus turn the cross into a
blob.  One way in which we deform
the message is by changing the wonderful invitational message of the cross into
a message of exclusion.  When the blood of Jesus that flowed freely for everyone,
becomes a pooled-up blob circling only in my life the deforming has happened.