Can’t say I’m looking forward to Lent, but surprisingly I do feel ready. Tonight we enjoyed our traditional Belgian waffle meal, with choice of strawberries, chocolate and butterscotch chips, syrup, whipped cream and nuts as toppings. This “dessert for dinner” is our annual Mardi Gras splurge.
Afterward, Joe and I engaged the palm burning ritual we’ve evolved over the years. It took a while to develop an effective method as palm does not burn all that easily. First we cut the palm into 1-2” pieces and place it into a cake pan that is completely blackened from years of use so that its sole purpose is palm burning. Joe goes down to his tool closet and brings up the blow torch, and we process out to the deck for the burning. As the flames singe and then begin to consume the palm, the fire captures Ash Wednesday and hints at the Easter Vigil all at the same time.
The bowl of ashes will stay on our hall credenza throughout Lent as a reminder that “unto dust we shall return.” The most meaningful Ash Wednesday of my life was one year when our children were very young and it was difficult to get to mass. Early in the morning, Joe and I read the day’s Gospel and signed each other with ashes from the palm we’d burned the previous night.
This morning I came across Psalm 36, and the insidiousness of “whispering” opens up a way for me to ponder sin during this season of conversion.
Sin whispers with the wicked,
shares its evil, heart to heart.
These sinners shut their eyes
to all fear of God.
They refuse to see their sin,
to know it and hate it.
God, your people seek shelter,
safe in the warmth of your wings.
They feast at your full table,
slake their thirst in your cool stream,
for you are the fount of life,
you give us light and we see.
Have a blessed Lent!