I finally participated in (and led) an Ash Wednesday service. It was my first. And it was beautiful. The sanctuary was dark, lit by the soft glow of candles. Our lenten theme “The Simplicity of Silence” framed our time together–lots of stillness and quiet reflection. The congregation was invited to embark physically on a theological journey: receiving ashes at the back of the sanctuary, tasting the reconciliation of God in communion at the sides of the sanctuary, and lighting a prayer candle as an act of discipleship at the front of the sanctuary. The whole experience was profound.
At the end of the evening, a young boy came up to me (after leaving the nursery). He asked if he, too, could have ashes on his forehead as the adults did. So I knelt down, explained the significance of the ashes, and marked his forehead as he beamed, wide-eyes and wonder-struck. I was aglow, too.