Rather than heading to chapel at lunch for the imposition of ashes, today was a day just like any other: prep the crock pot for our community dinner before rushing to mums and tots, work on lesson plans til JAFFA in the afternoon. The lesson today was on love and St. Valentine.
I might have forgotten Ash Wednesday altogether if it weren't for the boys from St. Malachy's College (a Catholic HS) at my bus stop on the way home, with the familiar smudges on their foreheads. Even though we didn't practice the imposition of ashes at the church where I was raised, it's a tradition that I have come to enjoy in later years. Not because I feel that everyone needs to see how holy I am for attending services on a Wednesday 42 days before Easter, but because it sets the tone for me: the silence of the chapel as we offer our foreheads sets the somber tone. Trying not to smudge the cross for the rest of the day keeps me in constant reminder of the journey I am beginning.
But today's reading from my Lenten devotional was Matthew 6:1-6, 16-28; which seemed strange for a day when many people in the States would be wearing their faith loud and proud of their forehead.
It was an interesting beginning to this study. How do you reconcile the idea of an outward act for your own reflection and one that could easily be seen as being showy or holier-than-thou? As with anything, I think the answer lies in the motivation of the participant - which none of us are in any place to judge.
On that note, Anna and I (and possibly a few other YAVS) are doing the World Vision Live Life Challenge, if you'd like to join us. For the next six weeks, we will focus on specific aspects of Jesus' teachings: fasting, prayer, giving, thankfulness and service. I will do my best to reflect on our study here.