Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Today is Ash Wednesday. Even though I’m more of a “questioning” (as in not entirely pleased with the church’s policies, but not entirely lapsed either) Catholic, I always find myself drawn to church on certain days. There is something to be valued in living life in sacred time--the noisy fullness and glad heartedness of the Christmas season fades slowly into the desert time, the fallow time of Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday asks us to make external whatever we are inside; to show it to the world. This is something I’ve always struggled with. When I was in grammar school, I used to make a game of it--sitting placidly in the knowledge that no one could see that I was a spy, or a princess, or a green fairy. No one could see inside my head, and my exterior gave no hint of what grew on the inside.

During the time I worked for Big Publishing House in NYC, I always scrubbed my ashes off surreptitiously, anxious to fit into the prevailing upper class, secular, intellectual culture at work. I told myself that it was no different from the games I played. But of course it was. That was fantasy, glorying in the amazing fact that my thoughts were my own and could riot untamed. This was shame, a negation.

Now that I am older, I want to be through with that shame. To be acknowledged as a spy, a princess, AND a green fairy (and many other things as well...). I want to be able to look in the mirror and really see myself--living above ground. I want to show myself, my ideas, to the world. No longer undercover. To wear my ashes.

And what of the ashes themselves? Ashes remind me of fire--remind me that I want to burn hot, burn be wholly used up by life and love and passion. And then I can be grateful to the ashes because some remnant always endures--memories and glimpses of old selves that can be seen slant as you sift through the ashes. Old situations caught in fingernail tears through time and unexpected moments.

And once you finish sifting and sorting, bearing witness to what still smolders and what is dead, be thankful that ashes can go back into the ground and make it fertile, and help you grow what you need.

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Blogger la vie en rose said...

girlfriend you are singin' my song! this is the life i'm longing for as well. so beautifully said!

11:18 PM, March 01, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know you are singing my song as well, girl...everyday. :)

7:21 PM, March 02, 2006  
Anonymous beth said...

This is a beautiful entry too! I'm glad to find out about your blog and will be back often to see how you're doing with that long list of fears, most of which would have sounded pretty familiar at one point, if not still...

Just keep writing.

10:19 AM, March 04, 2006  

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