In the calendar of my Christian tradition today is Ash Wednesday the beginning of our liturgical season of Lent. Not all Christian traditions mark Ash Wednesday, but today millions of Christians of many varieties will find the time to have ashes gently smeared onto our foreheads. Yet, even for those of us who do the ritual, it may mean different things. For some it is a reminder of mortality. For others a sign of mourning. For others an honoring of the stardust of which we are all made. For others an acknowledgment of personal failing. For others a indictment of systemic and institutional injustice and our part in that. For others a sign of being in a community willing to face all manner of pain and suffering, and strive to address it. There is no one meaning or understanding of that smudge of ash. Over the past decades I have found the ashes on my own forehead taking on most of those meanings. Blessings on those in my Christian family this day who take on ashes, blessings on you and whatever meaning it holds.
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