Being Imposed Upon

This is something I wrote during Lent a few years ago.  It's about Ash Wednesday, so I'm re-posting it here today.


Ash Wednesday.jpg

It happens to me every year.  I am prepared for Lent - I know what I'm sacrificing and what I'm picking up as a discipline.  And then I am imposed upon...

When I hear the phrase, 'Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return,' while receiving the imposition of ashes - all bets are off.   In that moment, in the midst of having ashes brushed on my forehead, I'm stopped in my tracks, and I'm haunted by those words for several weeks...

Why?

Because contemplating my mortality is an imposition.

Each year, when the season of Lent begins, I am forced to consider the finiteness of life in light of the infiniteness of God.  This reflection is good for me, I know, because it forces me to ask questions of myself: What have I done this year?  Did I grow? Did I regress? How have I hurt others? Am I trying to become an intstrument of Grace, Love, and Hope? 

In the midst of the busyness and messiness of life, trying to engage these questions with a level of depth takes time - so that's why I'm writing about 2 weeks later.  

Truly, this imposition, albeit an inconvenience, is good.  It stretches me. I grow as a result, and each year after I have taken stock of my dust, I am grateful that as I try to prepare for Lent, I am unprepared for Ash Wednesday. I am grateful that I am imposed upon by the ashes. And, in a season where we remember the humanity of Jesus and the embodiment of the God who Loves, I am thankful that God has chosen to make beautiful things out this dust - parents, husbands, children, friends, jokers, villians, soul-searchers, truth-tellers, wives, and healers.

Each year, following Ash Wednesday, I am happy to have the truth that God makes Beautiful Things out of us imposed upon me.

Christ's Presence

How do we preach Christ’s presence? We do so by constantly and consistently saying to people, “Look, there’s Christ in your midst, and there, and there, and there!” We do it by showing people that even if they are in darkness, they can find Christ’s light shining through the love of a family member, the kindness of a friend, a phrase in a book, or the inspiration form a song. We can also preach Christ’s presence by reminding people that Christ is in Scripture, in the sacraments, and in all of worship. We preach Christ’s presence by pointing to the incarnation of Christ in everything: our sufferings, our joys, our relationships, and our hearts.
— N. Graham Standish