Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ash Wednesday: I Shall Die Someday, and Thank You for Reminding Me

I am indeed The Mighty Ambivalent Catholic (one of millions, I suspect), but one part of Catholicism that I am not ambivalent about in the least is Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is a day when I remember -- when my faith community actually goes out of its way to remind me -- that I will die. Not only will I die, but I will die within decades or years or months or days or (hold on here) possibly the next few hours.

None of us know the exact time or circumstances of our deaths. What a truism. Yet what an important realization, once we get past the truism and let this idea really settle upon us. If my life is to matter -- if I am to express my love to my wife or my son -- if I am to write that kind letter too long delayed -- if I am to learn to pray better or live better or teach better or simply listen to the important sounds and voices that I should listen to --I had better start doing that soon. Or better yet, now.

Ash Wednesday reminds me to be humble. I am a sinner; I am limited in what I can see or understand clearly; I will some day come to my end through a heart attack or car crash or disease. Yet even with those obvious limitations, I am embraced and saved by a God who loves me dearly. God is, for some reason I do not understand fully, not ambivalent in His love for me. Consequently, yes I can easily embrace Ash Wednesday -- and the ashes on my forehead -- and my mortality -- without much ambivalence. I come from dust, and to dust I someday surely will return. And in the end, things will be fine.

1 comment:

Steve said...
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