Growing up church of Christ, Ash Wednesday was not really a part of my vocabulary, let alone the yearly calendar. After Bob and I married however, we started trying to practice Lent, quietly and within our new family. We liked the idea of a yearly rhythm with God. Making Easter less about chocolate bunnies and egg hunts and more about our faith appealed to us. I think each year we've benefited from whatever small sacrifices we chose to make, but it has been challenging since it was something we did, for the most part, alone, and not as part of our faith community.
Bob's job as a hospital chaplain this year involved providing an Ash Wednesday service, along with the other resident chaplains, to anyone at the hospital - patient or employee- who desired to participate. I decided to show up, along with Miriam, for one of the services. Despite the whispers of the nearly-three year old beside me, it was a really meaningful experience. Scripture reading, singing, prayer, and then the opportunity to come forward and be marked on the forehead with ashes. "This is to remind you that from ashes you come, and to ashes you will return", is (I think) the phrase Bob spoke as he made a cross on my head with ashes. There on my head was a tangible reminder of my mortality, my humanity, my sinfulness. As I wore the ashes down the corridors of the hospital, as I saw people glance at the "smudge" on my head, I was very aware of God's presence and God's plan for myself and all of His lost creation.
I am prayerful these days. They are pretty uncertain ones for our family! I am pregnant. I am facing the end of my time as youth/children's minister at Contact. Bob and I are completely unsure as to where he will work after May, where we may need to move, what major changes our expanding family may have to face. I am hopeful though. As we enter the Lenten season, I feel sure that just as God has always had a plan for humanity, He has a plan for us - for me, for our family, for our new baby, for all the kids and families we love here in Tulsa. And for you too.