Day One : Making a Lasting Lent

I will do something weird today. I will deliberately allow someone to rub burnt palm frond onto my forehead, and I will leave it there. In fact, not only will I allow it, I will celebrate it and contemplate it. I will allow the ash to make its way behind furrowed brow to deeper spots in my soul. I will do this weird thing in solidarity with wrinkled and smooth skin and those with pale and ebony brow. We will be marked and will stand out for one unified evening, instigating nods at the grocery store, the gym and the pub. Those left unmarked will wonder why we would do such a thing. Maybe we don't even know. Maybe like a car tag renewal, we will just know it is time to do it. Maybe it will stay on our head, but never make its way further. Maybe it will barely scratch the surface. But...maybe this time it won't ever come off.

Perhaps this Ash-marked man will feel more at home with living a peculiar life. Maybe the ash will be more potent than my fear, or social expectations, or selfishness. What if it acted like a salve and brought some healing upon application? Perhaps the ointments of consumption, social strutting, and feverish busyness can be set aside once this remedy of embers takes hold. My soul sits, fingers crossed, anticipating the mystery of this repentant rhythm. It longs for a permanent shadow, a billboard upon my profile which doesn't allow me to sink into the subtle march to which we too often surrender. Instead, it beckons me to walk the other way...toward those who can offer me nothing, those who move too slow, and those of no reputation. It reminds me that life is short and that I've spent too much of it in empty pursuits. I am hopeful that this Lent will be lasting and that things will be different, because...I will do something weird today.

—M. Dierdorff, March 6, 2019


Jay Horton