Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

I grew up Southern Baptist and in our church Ash Wednesday wasn't a big deal.  Southern Baptists don't do the whole ash on the forehead thing.  I became aware of it as I got older and had friends in school that were Catholic, Episcopalian, and Lutheran, but I didn't understand or know the rules behind the ritual.

Then I grew up and attended a Lutheran college.  I was a member of the choir at Wartburg College and we were required to sing at the Ash Wednesday morning services held at the school.  When it was time to go up and have ashes smudged on our heads, the whole choir went so I just followed along.  I didn't really want to walk around campus with black stuff smeared on my face for the rest of the day, so on the walk back to my seat I licked my thumb and wiped it off. 

My Lutheran classmates were horrified!  They looked at me like I had just murdered a puppy in front of them.  I was so confused, but I never forgot my first "real" Ash Wednesday. 

Is it wrong that to this day I amuse myself on Ash Wednesday by telling perfect strangers I encounter at the grocery store or wherever, "Ummm, hey, you've got a something on your face.  Just thought you'd want to know."

(I'm probably going to hell.)


  1. I grew up Roman Catholic and still am. Yeah -- the ashes on the forehead are a funky thing. We used to wear them with great pride in the Catholic elementary school when we walked home from school past "the publics."

    From your posts, I imagine that sometimes I go through your neck of the woods? For almost two years we have made the journey from central Illinois to the Mayo Clinic every three months. We usually go straight north through Illinois to Wisconsin, then west to Rochester, MN. However, we sometimes go south from Rochester and take the more scenic tour instead.

  2. Hey, Lightning. I'm in the Des Moines area. My wife had some serious medical issues back in the mid 2000's, so I made that trip up I-35 to Rochester many, many times.

    If you're ever coming through with time to spare, we should go play some poker out at Prairie Meadows. It's a small room, but if you go at the right time it can be very profitable.