An Acceptable Time–Ash Wednesday and All the Rest

I found this post right after I published the last one tonight…this one was a draft that I thought had been eaten by gremlins at my hotel in Fort Worth that week of Ash Wednesday. So, I am backpedaling to the beginning of Lent to weave this into the middle of the season. Wishing you all peace as I do so…

“As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, ‘At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.’ See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!” 2 Corinthians 6: 1-2

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. I was out of town and went to a noon Mass at a cathedral near my hotel. It was a big church and as I walked in, only five minutes before the start of the service, there were just a few people in the pews.

Then, it seemed like all at once, hundreds of people were streaming in. They filled all the pews, stood in the aisle, and waited in the back of the church. In only five minutes’ time, I was surrounded by men and women and children and babies and very old people. I remembered hearing once that while Christmas and Easter are thought to be the busiest “church days,” actually Ash Wednesday often has the largest crowds in attendance. I heard someone say that this is because everyone can receive ashes on their forehead and no one is turned away.

With all these people, I prayed. With all these people, I waited in line to have ashes rubbed on my forehead in the sign of a cross. With all these people, I heard “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.”. And the words were proclaimed, “See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!”

It was kind of like coming home for the holidays to a very large family. Standing there among all these strangers, young and old, I felt blessed just to be on the journey. I also felt not-separate but that we all really are traveling together.

As this holy time of Lent begins, I hope for time to center down…to rest…to pray…to wait for God. I will carry the grace of my sisters and brothers (strangers skin-deep only) in my heart along the way. May we all know the holy truth of our oneness as we enter this season and may we await resurrection with hope and joy.

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