This day – Ash Wednesday – has always fascinated me. There is no other seemingly ordinary day that stands out so much as a day of faith. I see many people whom I’ve never heard speak about their religion or beliefs, proudly wearing their belief on their forehead. So often we’re afraid to bring up the subject of religion at work, or out with friends. We don’t talk about it, except in safe circles. But on this day, there it is. Bold. Brazen. Marked for all the world to see. Child of God. Believer in the promises fulfilled in Christ’s death and resurrection. We don’t hide it. And no one asks us to.
Why are we not allowed to pray in schools, even silently, but we can attend with ashes on our forehead? Why is the phrase “Merry Christmas” met with scorn, but we don’t need wash the ashes off our forehead before greeting people on Ash Wednesday. Why is this outward display of religious belief acceptable when so many others are not? In a society that has become hyper-sensative to so much; that has turned ‘politically correct’ into a nuisance, we are silently tollerant of displays on this day.
I don’t subscibe to the basal response that tollerance stems from respect. I don’t believe enough people actually understand the depth and intensity of this day to foster great respect for the ashes from religious reflection. So why, then, does society allow these public displays over others? Is it out of fear, or laziness? Or is it just that someone loud enough has not yet cried out in protest?
Whatever the reason, I pray this collective consent is never lost. These ashes on my forehead are important to me. I don’t want to defend them every year. Although…..wouldn’t that be the perfect start to the season of Lent? A chance to face and defy persecution for our beliefs. Hmmmm……maybe there is value in spending 40 days defending your faith.
Robyn, I just stumbled on this blog and had no idea you were doing this. What a gift you are! Thank you for sharing yourself so freely with the rest of us on the journey.