Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday


I always envied my friends
who came to school
the day after Mardi Gras
with a smudged forehead,
a spot of ash or soot
index-fingered
upon skin to signify
what – exactly?
They told me the priest
at church did it but
they didn’t know why.
I didn’t know either but
ignorance never stopped me
from wanting my own smudge.

If you'd like to know more about Ash Wednesday, Pastor Mark Roberts over at Belief Net posted a column yesterday that describes its history and current practice.

Also see "40 Days of Lent" by Cassandra Frear at Moonboat Cafe.

14 comments:

Sheila Siler said...

As a pentecostal we never did any of the "traditional" things, so I agree. Now I go to a Evangelical Covenant church that does observe - and I am going tonight to our Ash Wednesday service to get my own "smudge".

Jerry said...

paczi's and smudges
I was a catholic and I'm still not
sure why ashes on the forehead
existed. I'll check out the site.
thanks Glynn.

Maureen said...

Good poem. It underscores the mystery of so much we accept without questioning, only knowing that we do not want to be one of the left-behind.

Louise Gallagher said...

Hmmm... so I was one of the one's with the smudged forehead. And I wanted to rub it off because it made me different!

Good poem Glynn, as Maureen said, we don't want to be left-behind -- and it is always from our perspective that we experience our position of inclusion or exclusion!

JC Dude said...

I never did get smudged...but I was always curious about. Beautiful expression bro'

nance marie said...

i am glad i came along after these comments.
it is all so wonderful and interesting.

L.L. Barkat said...

What a great little poem. Nice and tight.

Have you got your smudge now? :)

Kathleen Overby said...

Bones rising up to speak. iLike. Aren't the lines of "Pagan Christianity" a blur?

Cassandra Frear said...

I'm celebrating today that God knows I am dust. How good it is.

Sent you a DM, too.

Sheila said...

Hijack: I'm drawn up short by the first commenter's name. My maiden name was Sheila Seiler. /hijack

Glynn, the kids with smudges were a minority in my neighborhood. The memory I associate with them is being shushed when I pointed them out and asked my mom what they were.

Cassandra, it is good to know that we're dust, isn't it? It comforts me so.

Brock S. Henning said...

Glynn, I was a practicing Catholic growing up, and remember well the looks my non-Catholic friends would give me on Ash Wednesday. You summed it up well. :-)

Sandra Heska King said...

I was smudged once. It was very meaningful.

I remember wondering what Vice-President Biden had run into last year. I had totally forgotten it was Ash Wednesday.

Charity Singleton said...

Such a humbling mark, all sooty and soiled. I have yet to get my first ashen mark, but I have been celebrating the day quietly by myself for a while.

Cheryl said...

I didn't grow up in a church tradition that observed Lent, so it's only been in recent years that I've come to understand the beauty and power of the tradition. Last year I was at Ecclesia for Lent and donned ashes for the first time, ever. Didn't know I wasn't supposed to wash my forehead.

No matter, the experienced left an indelible mark on my memory!