“Let’s see… I guess it’s been a while
since I went to church on Ash Wednesday
to get ashes…
How long’s it been?
– it’s been a while…
Why did I stop getting ashes?
Will I go this year?
Why should I go this year?
Why go any year?
Getting ashes doesn’t mean I’m holy.
As a matter of fact,
getting ashes means I’m not holy…
Ashes are for people like me who make mistakes,
sometimes little ones, sometimes big ones…
Ashes are for people who screw up,
people who forget some important things,
people who let things slide…
Ashes are for people who sometimes hurt other people,
who even hurt the people they love…
Ashes are for imperfect, broken people,
for people who let things get out of control,
for people who sometimes do the wrong thing
even when they know what the right thing is…
Ashes are for people who take too many short cuts,
who don’t always tell the truth,
who sometimes cheat,
for people who keep silent when they ought to speak up…
Ashes are for people who want to do better,
who want to give more,
who want to do more,
who want to make some changes,
who want to grow inside,
in the mind, in the heart, in the soul…
Ashes are for people like me…
Going to church and getting ashes
probably won’t turn my life around overnight
but it could be a step, even just one step,
in a new direction,
on a path I sometimes think I want to follow
but often stray from…
Getting ashes this Wednesday
just might be the beginning
of mending my relationship with God,
or with the people in my life,
or with myself…
Getting ashes this Wednesday might help me
take an honest look at things in my life
that need looking at, that need attention,
that need reconciling and healing…
Getting ashes this Wednesday might feel kinda strange,
and I might be a little embarrassed
when others see my smudged forehead
and ask me why I did it.
Well, I could say I did it
because I’ve been thinking about my life,
taking a little personal inventory,
considering some changes
and I thought this might be a way, a place to start…
Me in church?
Me getting ashes?
I might feel a little strange myself!
But something tells me it won’t hurt
and it might be good to give it a try,
to give it a chance:
to give God and me a chance at a new beginning…
So even if it’s been a long time since the last time,
I’m going to church this Wednesday
to say a prayer and to get ashes:
to say hello to God
and take a first step on that path…
And since I know that between now and Wednesday
I’ll think of a dozen reasons not to go,
give me a nudge, Lord, a shove,
a kick in the butt or whatever it takes
for me to take that first step this Wednesday,
this Ash Wednesday…”
-Fr. Austin Fleming