Ash Wednesday Blessing

I pulled into the parking lot at Stubbs, intent on lunch and a hot date with a pdf, when I saw the priest from the Episcopal church down the street from our house. Wearing a cassock, he was standing on the sidewalk near a sign that proclaimed, “Ashes to Go.”

I was so charmed I walked right up and got smudged.

It felt like a serious cross he inscribed on my forehead, too. I haven’t had the courage to check it out in the mirror, but judging from the size of the crosses on the foreheads of the kids who just came in, it probably is a venti rather than a grande or a tall.

I now have an extra 60 to 75 minutes to work on editing this manuscript, because there doesn’t seem much point in duplicating the symbol by going to services at my own church this evening. There’s a lot to be said for beginning the Lenten journey in the midst of one’s faith community, but it’s also important to recognize blessings when they show up in unexpected forms, in unanticipated places.

And now, to the pdf! [Yes, Sue, it’s that pdf. I’m at the 40% mark now.]

© 2012 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go

This entry was posted in Notes from the Neighborhood, Seasonal, The Examined Life, The Writing Life and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Ash Wednesday Blessing

  1. Anne M Leone says:

    Hah! Love the idea of ashes to go! Though perhaps this is another example of something that would only happen in America… 😉

    Plus, writing with the ash cross on your forehead seems so empowering. Like with a sacrificial and penitent heart, we can really knock our writing out of the park!

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    • Anne Bingham says:

      Hi, Anne-in-Britain. According to this morning’s paper, which had a photo on the front page, Ashes to Go was an ecumenical undertaking by the 5 churches in the area–Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic, and another that wasn’t named in the paper. I just happened by during the Episcopal priest’s shift.

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  2. Marcia says:

    I too am struck by the idea of writing with the cross on my forehead. What a wonderful combination if it could be both my best and most humble work!

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    • Anne Bingham says:

      Your and Anne Leone’s comments have really added a dimension to this experience for me, Marcia. The cross of on the forehead starts with baptism in my tradition (only with olive oil then, not ashes!) so in one sense the cross on the forehead has been there from early days; it’s just that the only time it’s really obvious is on Ash Wednesday (unless, as it turns out, one’s hair flops over one’s forehead like mine did and nobody really could see it. After all that!)

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  3. What a nice idea! Sure would like to see it take off next year and spread around the country.

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  4. MaryWitzl says:

    An interesting idea! This would beat writing under the influence of hunger, which can also happen during Lent. I can’t say that it’s helped me much so far, but I’m still going to give fasting a go.

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    • Anne Bingham says:

      Fasting is like a mirror image of the old Kobayashi Maru scenario. If you succeed, you’ve strengthened your willpower. If you fall off the fasting wagon, you become that much more aware of your limitations and, ideally, have more empathy for those who do not have the option for scarfing down a handful of Wheat Thins (not that this happened this morning. I’m just saying…) Either way, you’re constantly reminded about who you are and where you are on the journey to who you’re supposed to be.

      Or is this approach considered reprogramming the scenario?

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