By on February 16, 2015 in News & Musings

“Do I wipe them off or do I leave them up there?” This is still the question I ask myself every Ash Wednesday.

I am a romantic. I love reading adventure novels and thinking about going on fantastic explorations into undiscovered places. In books and movies, stories let us experience this journey from a distance, safely experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions and the reward that comes from the courage to persevere. When I was a kid, and would give up candy for Lent, I would dream about the person I would become if I was faced with great adversity. My imagination was a wonderful place to think about struggle and the victory that comes with determination and overcoming fear. I grew up, no longer give up candy for Lent, and have had my own adventures that are not as exotic as in stories. I have found out that adventure, being in the desert, and being tested is just really hard; it is often not romantic.

“From dust you came and to dust you shall return.”

Having ashes on my forehead is uncomfortable and that is why it is perfect. Ash Wednesday, for me, is being called into the desert to embrace struggle, embrace my humanity and experience my faith. The ashes we smudge on our foreheads are the burnt palms from last year’s Palm Sunday. We start these 40 days with the heartache of Jesus as we are branded with a reminder that he was given up by the same people who were lining the streets welcoming him. And the ashes remind us of our own beginnings and ends.

So leaving the church and having ashes smudged on my forehead might be uncomfortable. Struggling with whatever I give up for Lent might be uncomfortable. The deserts I walk through in life might be uncomfortable. It is in these moments my heart is broken open and my faith and relationship with Christ is more than my imagination.

Our guest blogger is Lee George. Lee and his wife Christine live in south Minneapolis and we are so glad they join us at Zion most Sundays.



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