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Annika Gordon, Unsplash

Ash Wednesday at the YMCA

annika gordon ash wednesday lent Feb 14, 2024

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and marks the beginning of forty days of reflection, prayer, and penance leading up to Easter. In the Christian tradition, Ash Wednesday invites us to consider the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as well as acknowledge our own mortality.

“I have to admit,” says Cynthia Bourgeault, “that I’ve always loved the Ash Wednesday liturgy. Antiquated, gender-challenged though its language may be, it inevitably and forcibly calls me back, as the ash is smeared on my forehead, to the palpable remembrance that we belong to earth: we are formed of her and will all too swiftly return to her. In a religion that seems to spend so much of its time getting out of the body, this fleeting remembrance of our universal habitat in the biosphere has always struck me as grounding, honest, and strangely comforting” (Daily Meditations, Center for Action and Contemplation, February 28, 2018).

This morning as I left the workout area at my local YMCA and approached the lobby a young man wearing an alb was imposing ashes on an older woman’s forehead. “Child of God,” I heard him say, “remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

Turns out he’s a student at a local divinity school, where I studied theology some twenty years ago. As we traded school stories, we made a connection one to another. Seconds later, when he marked the ashes on my sweaty forehead, we made a connection to something much bigger than ourselves.

--Amy-Lyles Wilson, WTC Instructor and Mentor

Photography by Annika Gordon on Unsplash

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