“What’s that crap on your head?” and other Ash Wednesday greetings

I was proud of myself yesterday on Ash Wednesday. I fasted for good deal of the day, stretching myself a good bit. But I also fasted from laziness. I woke up early and hit the 7AM mass and received my ashes. I’m usually uncomfortable about wearing the ashes but I decided this year I was going to be very intentional about wearing them all day. I even knew I was going to be at work late yesterday–so I had the ashes on publicly from 7AM – until 9 PM.

The experience was a new one for me and I found myself feeling less uncomfortable and more like a walking signpost for Catholicism. Wearing the ashes is a public reminder to others that Lent has begun. I heard the following quotes yesterday on the subway and streets of NYC:

“Oh shit, it’s Ash Wednesday! I forgot. And now I just cursed–I’m off to a great start.” – Random person on the street
“It’s Ash Wednesday…cool, what are you giving up?” – Woman buying a soda
“Nice Ash!” – my friend, Melissa.
“If someone smudges their ash and makes it look like an upside down cross would that make it Ash-backwards?” – an old friend who requests to stay anonymous
“Ugh…I hate Ash Wednesday. It’s a silly superstition.” – drunk woman who did in fact, have ashes on her head.

And my all time favorite:

“Excuse me, you’ve got some kind of black crap on your forehead.”
Me: “Nah dude, It’s Ash Wednesday!”
Guy: “Huh?”
Me: (Louder) “It’s Ash Wednesday!”
Guy (obviously taken aback: “Oh! Oh!…I didn’t know that!”
Me (realizing I sounded harsh): “Thanks for looking out for me anyway, man.”
Guy: “No problem. I thought I saw a bunch of people with stuff on their head but then I thought I was just seeing floaters!”

Regardless of your ash-feelings…we remind ourselves that our time here is limited. That we are made for connection with God and others. What are we doing today on that journey?

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