I attended our Ash Wednesday church service, which begins the 40-day season of Lent. (Lent is a season of soul-searching, which originated in the very earliest days of the church as a preparatory time for Easter.) Why is it called Ash Wednesday, you ask? For Christians, ashes are a biblical symbol of repentance, sorrow and humility. At an Ash Wednesday church service, the pastor imposes an ash cross on your forehead. This marks the physical and spiritual beginning of a personal Lent season prior to the celebration of Easter.
Did you know that the ashes are made by burning the dried Palm branches from the prior year's Palm Sunday Church service? The ashes are mixed with holy water to form a grayish black paste. The pastor dips his thumb in the paste and then forms a cross on each person's forehead.
During this season of Lent, allow me to be reminded that I am created in ashes and to ashes I will return. "Create in me a clean heart, oh God; and renew a right spirit within me" Psalm 51:10.