Some of you may have noticed dirty faces last Wednesday and wondered why? Some of you probably knew it was Ash Wednesday — the day in which some Christians engage in the harebrained ritual of smudging ashes on their foreheads, and some of you may have even indulged in this practice. What the hell is that all about?
If you are a spiritual person, you may relate to some of what I have to share with you. I beg your indulgence.
Lent is a sacred time of introspection where believers journey ever so deeply into the mystery of the human soul.
Lent is a journey into the essence of our humanity, the place from which our true self emerges, our “God-self”. The desert is a strong symbol during this season, in remembrance of the time that Jesus spent there, a dry and barren place, fasting 40 days and 40 nights.
During this season, we reflect on our mortality, our human limitations, and our dependence on a Higher Power some choose to call God.
Lent is also a time of introspection, a time to pause from the craziness of life, and ponder the “dark night of the soul” – which can mean the spiritual emptiness of a meaningless life with no connection to anything but our own self-centered Egos.
The prosperity gurus and pop psychologists seem to believe we can have it all 24/7 but if anything, Lent is a time when we come to terms with the fact that the human journey is sometimes muddled with pain, suffering, stupid decisions, disappointments, uncertainty and even the feeling that God or a Higher Power is absent from the universe. At times it all feels like barren wasteland.
So Back to the Ashes
Smudging ashes on our foreheads at the beginning of Lent is a reminder that we are literally born of cosmic dust to which we shall return. It is an invitation to practice humility and learn something from this crazy radical Rabbi named Jesus who turned the world upside down with his far-reaching form of living in LOVE without judgment.
We almost always walk with one foot in the desert, so why run from it? Jesus was bold, he took it on, and he willingly entered the desert and fasted 40 days and 40 nights. He did this in deep humility in order to bring into our conscious awareness what remains dormant within many of us: our deepest connection to one another, and to our deepest self.
During this season of Lent I invite you not to run from the desert, but to embrace it. Once you stop running, the desert will lead you into a deeper humanity, and into a deeper life where the winds of Resurrection are blowing.
Have a blessed journey. You are loved!
2 comments on “What’s Up With the Dirty Face?”
What a great introduction and reflection on Lent !!!
Thank you for this, Fr. Wilfredo.
Thank you. I hope this reaches those who have jumped ship. 🙂