Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. We were formed from the clay of the earth, and to the dirt we will one day return. The smudges on their foreheads- the faithful, walking, heads bowed, back into their pews for a quiet moment with their Lord. A reminder of our own insignificance, and the cycle of life. What is ashes today were living palms less than a year ago, after all. The fire reduced them, just as we are reduced. Mixed with the holy oils, the ashes can renew themselves though, just as we hope to do with God’s grace throughout our lives. The cycle repeats, endlessly, until nothing but ashes will remain without the grace of God.
This post is inspired by my own celebration of Ash Wednesday today. The traditions described here are Roman Catholic.