Ash Wednesday

When I begin musing about February, birthdays, Lincoln’s, Washington’s, Black History Month, St. Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, all rolled around in my imagination. I realized what a festive month February is.

But in my musing, my imaginations spun off on Ash Wednesday into the realm of the spirit. Everyone, it seems, likes to get ashes on their forehead on Ash Wednesday, which of course, is the beginning of lent. But I wonder sometimes if they know what the ashes signify, with the prayer “you are dust and to the dust you will return”. Many come for ashes who ordinarily don’t go to church. There’s something fascinating about ashes. I like to think it’s a fascination with our beginnings. Where have we come from? Where are we going? What are we doing here? How often have you heard these questions asked? Those who come for ashes seem to know the answer.

As I said, Ash Wednesday is the first day of lent, the season that signifies the time of year when we consider how we’re doing on this planet. Is this all there is? Should we be grateful for our present world? Should we enjoy everything it has to offer and be satisfied with this present life? You know, in a few million year, when the earth is seared by the expanding sun, shall all return to dust? Or do we have something better in mind?Like a new kind of life in the spirit, where we shine like the stars and dart about joyfully as sparks in the stubble… a life that has been touched by divinity and transformed by love.

Our beginning is dust, but our destiny is divine.

The Monthly Musing series is written by Fr. Francis Schemel, Chaplain to the Staff at Georgetown University. Dive deeper into his spiritual ponderings on his blog.

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