Last week was one of those busy weeks. With the season of Lent and the celebration
of Ash Wednesday we had a lot of people in our house. Let me start with the evening before, known
as Fat Tuesday.

Ashwed_002We had one of the elder couples over for dinner and
had a wonderful meal, great wine and stimulating conversation. When they left we realized that we didn’t
burn the palms of last year’s Palm Sunday to obtain the ashes. At 11pm
I opened
the barbeque, placed the palms on the grill and drenched those babies with
lighter fluid. Now for you protestant
kids out there (of whom I’m one), there are some beautiful prayers for the
burning of the palms. I didn’t follow a
traditional liturgy, yet there I stood praying a prayer of thanksgiving for Ash
Wednesday and the upcoming season. Halfway through my prayer I lit a match and chucked it onto the baptized
palms. Woof! The flame leapt up AT LEAST TWO METERS. It burned a hole through the netting of our
roof. My prayer was interrupted by my
frantic shouts of ‘shit! shit!’ followed by a lightning quick removal of the
barbeque from under the roof (the picture is of the hole). 

Lent is a time of repentance and cleansing and I sure
need it!

Six o’clock on Wednesday morning, eleven of us started our day with a ceremony of placing
a cross on our foreheads. We carried
that sucker like a huge billboard all day (Lollie administered it and she didn’t
hold back!). After the service everyone
dispersed into their different rhythms for the day. I had a few appointments in town and walked
through the mall with my humongous cross – feeling a tad exposed. Most people stared and then dropped their
eyes to the floor, hoping to evade the approaching freak with the cross. (The last time I got stares like that was
when I wore my Jabez T-shirt in Colorado Springs
, it
said: ‘I prayed the prayer of Jabez for thirty days and the only thing I got
was this lousy shirt.’)

 

Then it was off to the bank where the teller started
laughing uncontrollably and asked me, ‘what is that for?” I explained to her the symbolism of the cross
and the significance of lent. She
processed my transaction and didn’t fall to her knees to pray the ‘sinners’
prayer. Later in the day I met with a pastor friend and endured his mocking and
that of the waitress. Then an older lady
approached me and asked me what the cross was all about. I explained to her and she remarked, ‘it’s a
wonderful way to witness for Christ.’

As the day progressed, the ash faded and by the time
we had the evening service at our house, I needed a new administering of the
cross – the old one was almost unrecognizable. 

For me Ash Wednesday is a very practical way of ‘taking
up the cross and following Christ’. The
day is an exercise that shows me how hard it is for me to move through life to the
beat of another drum. It also reminds me
that my commitment to the cross fades like the ash on my forehead. I have to start fresh every morning.

Update: Maggi Dawn has some wonderful posts on Lent here.