We have interesting hopes and sometimes unreal expectations of life and others. Day after tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. Around the church, nation and world, folks will — it won’t be flock but maybe a few will trickle in — to church, to line up, queue down the center aisle, and each person hear the warning from Genesis 3:19, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” as the forehead is smudged with ashes (I smudge with my thumb and make a cross). It’s the notice of mortality that the Lord God spoke to Adam as we were ejected from the Garden. It’s what I expect, and to be returned- and scattered-dust, yea until Sol expands to consume “this fragile Earth, our island home,” and her planets.
Life is short, and we haven’t much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us - - so be quick to love, and make haste to be kind …
That was a wandering, again off into the brambles, the mental habit that marks my being. Where I began was the Ash Wednesday some thirty or thirty-five, years ago as the day ended and I put away my little pyx of ashes that I had, maybe uncreated is the word, from palm crosses. In those days I would early in the evening excuse myself from the Shrove Tuesday pancake supper, go next door to the church sacristy, grab the bunch of palm crosses from Palm Sunday last year, go outside, burn them to crisps, and crush the chars into ashes, to be ready for Ash Wednesday services the next day, beginning just after dawn, ending just after sunset.
It’s almost time to go Walk, so I’ll wrap up this memory. On the next day, the Thursday after that particular Ash Wednesday, a parishioner phoned me sobbing. Oh my goodness, JaneDoe, I remember exclaiming, what’s wrong, what happened? I’m sick at home, she said, and you didn’t bring ashes to my home yesterday.
!!!I thought!!! JaneDoe, I sez to her, I sez, sezz-I, imposition of ashes is not a sacrament, we don’t carry ashes to homes and hospitals like Holy Communion, it's not a sacrament. But I would have for you if you had asked, if you had told me. Why didn’t you tell me you wanted me to bring ashes out to your house?
Father Weller, you should have known, says she, hanging up the phone.
DThos+ at sabbatical end