I dread Lent. For years when I was a kind of cafeteria Catholic I did not think about it much, but now that I am in a traditional congregation, Lent looms large.
And today being Ash Wednesday, here it is!
The line for the confessional today before Mass, you should have seen it! And after Mass, too. It is hours later and I bet they are still there!
Meanwhile there was all that beautiful and mournful Lenten music. At the end of Mass we sang the "O Sacred Head Surrounded." That hymn always gets to me and afterward I was kneeling watching the crowded church empty (or more accurately get into the confession line). And one of my friends from the choir tapped me on the shoulder.
"Can I ask you a question?" she whispered. "The ashes, do you keep them on your face all day?"
I blinked. This is not a question you are used to. You just kind of grow up with this and you know what to do. Then I remembered that this one gal, she did not grow up Catholic.
"When do you wash them off?" she asked me.
I said, "Well, you usually keep them on all day, yes. You just wash them off when you wash your face at night." Then I thought about it. "Although I do not think it is a sin to wash them off. I just never thought about it."
Well, let me tell you this. I hope it is not a sin to wash them off.
Because that is exactly what I did when I got home!
It was evening anyway, and wet snow was coming down, and I just got into the bathtub and took a hot bath and washed away those ashes. The Mass had been intense, as Ash Wednesday masses usually are, and I just felt it was time.
Not only that but my ashes this year looked really awful. They were like this charcoal blotch on my forehead. No cross, just this blotch. Having a cross on your forehead is one thing. Having just this blotch is another.
Hahaa.. I just found this chart.
Here I go making light of things however I got something between the Blob and the Hindu.
I understand that I have to be reminded that I am dust. However at least put a cross on my forehead, you know?
It is going to be one of those Lents!