A Chance


This year, for the first time in my life I felt I was to observe Lent.  I found an Ash Wednesday service and went to it.  The minister talked about how we would now be pilgrims on a journey of repentance, reflection and self-denial.  When he was done talking I followed him and the congregants along a path made of crosses marked out on the floor.  It led to a chapel where we stood in line to approach the minister.  When it was my turn he dipped his finger into a mixture of ashes, made the sign of a cross on my forehead, and declared quite sternly “Remember, from dust you were made and to dust you will return.”  I was surprised by what he said.  I thought he was going to give me a blessing.  Well, maybe it was.  Maybe this reminder of my humanity, this reminder of my humble beginnings, and of my certain and humble end, was a blessing.  I went home pensive.

The next morning I woke up at 4 a.m. with the minister’s words racing through my mind.   “And to dust you will return.”  I was frightened.  My heart sped up.  Am I going to die today I wondered.  Is that why I felt led to the Ash Wednesday service (the first Ash Wednesday service I had been to in my life).  Is that why the minister told me that?  Or… was this instead a Scrooge-like experience.  A chance.  A chance to reflect on my life.  A chance to consider and confess my self-absorbed attitudes and actions, even my self-absorbed prayers.  Maybe this was a chance to try denying myself some of those small things so that I could live a truer, larger, more loving life.  Yes, I think that’s what it was, a chance to see a better way to live.  And give.  A chance to say not just “God bless me” but “God bless us, everyone!”          

                        “For dust you are and to dust you will return.”  Genesis 3:19 NIV  

2 thoughts on “A Chance”

  1. Thank you for you real and honest reflections on your experience. I,too, decided to experience Lent in a more traditional way. God often surprises us with his grace and personal message for us in these times.!


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