Friday 24 February 2023

Ash Wednesday as I participated

Learning a new focus of trust

This week has been one of the interesting contrasts in how to maintain focus in an environment of distractions, some harmful and others hopefully more beneficial. One thing I had decided was to be more participatory in this season of the church calendar, and this I mean, the Church of England – Anglican Communion arrangement.

I probably could have given some heed to doing something for Shrove Tuesday, I had the flour, and I could have made pancakes, yet I was exhausted and drawn away in thought and reminiscences that were quite unprofitable and redolent of interactions with seemingly sincere but quite unreliable people. Eventually, I find I can step away from the situation to reflect on how in words of the old hymnal, Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus, ‘the arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own’, or that of any other too.

An eerie feeling of compounding disappointment and dejection seeks to occupy your thoughts and reins for which despondency intends to feed you the tears of apparent helplessness, yet you cannot relent for the hope that abounds and the love of God you are striving to understand and learning to believe beyond platitude and the scribed to experience.

A mortal in eternal purpose

The Lenten season is ushered in with Ash Wednesday and I had some excitement about attending the church service which was termed the Holy Eucharist with the Imposition of Ashes. It is one tradition I have never before participated in. When I told my mum about it earlier today, she thought it was a purely Roman Catholic tradition, I guess there are many areas where Roman Catholic and Anglican conventions overlap or are shared.

It was a solemn meeting in a medium capacity seating for that time in the afternoon. The highlight was The Imposition of the Ashes, wherein, the congregation files to the front before the ministers to have the sign of the cross in ashes placed on their foreheads. With the words said:

Remember that you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.
Turn away from sin,
and be faithful to Christ.

Taken from the second clause in the verse of Genesis 3:19, “for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

Quite a moment of spiritual recognition and an almost trembling appreciation of our humble mortality in the context of an eternal dispensation. I do wonder if it would have felt more poignant if that was said in Latin, “Memento, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.”

Intention for guidance and direction

After that, we then participated in the Breaking of the Bread signifying the work of redemption and the new covenant in Jesus Christ as our gathering ended quietly apart from music from the majestic Stoller Organ.

This period of Lent would be used to help attuned one’s spirit to the witness and the voice of the human spirit, given the direction of the Holy Spirit, away from distractions, distortions, noise, and confusion that can so easily leave one unsure of purpose, direction, peace, and guidance.

On the question of spirituality, I am learning that it is more an individual experience than identification with creed, church, or denomination. Where you are blessed is where you should be.

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