Last week we observed Ash Wednesday. If Ash Wednesday is unfamiliar or simply not part of your tradition, let me explain the day and the ceremonial imposition of the ashes.

The ashes signify the earth from which we come and to which we will be returned. The ashes remind me of my finiteness. They provide perspective.

The ashes also signify sorrow, grief and repentance. The ashes remind me that I live a life that falls short. They restore understanding.

for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return

Return and remember.

“Lest you should fall apart,
drink that which binds you together.
Lest you should seem cheap to yourselves,
drink that which bought you.
As this, when you eat and drink it, is changed into you, so you are changes into the Body of Christ by and obedient and holy life.” —Augustine

The liturgy is a liturgy of reconciliation, at the close of which the people are sent out to serve God and each other. Reconciliation is far more than a personal accoutrement. It is an act of grace to the community. So we wear the ashes in the presence of the community, declaring that we have indeed returned, that we have remembered who we are, that we have been reconciled, and that we have been commissioned to restore the world.

In my neck of the woods, the labor of restoration looks like… starting a new content writing job and heightening my creativity… working to communicate better in Flemish… forgiving a recent hurt… designing a liturgy on the topic of the Prodigal.

Restoration is all around us. In tiny, small, nearly imperceptible ways and in great ways. Lest you should fall apart, lest you should seem cheap to yourself, take a moment to reflect on something which has been restored. Take a moment to see an area in which you can invest the labor of restoration. 

 Watercolor reflection.

Watercolor reflection.

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