Saturday, February 06, 2010

Remembering Ashes

Two years ago today, it was Ash Wednesday, and I was in Rome with dear friends.

It was the moment of a lifetime for me - to finally see some of the things I'd studied for all of those years in high school classes, and on through a university degree in European church history. 

But it came on the tail end of 4 very challenging weeks, and I was a bit discombobulated.

It was a day that I won't ever forget, though, for all the deep memories it holds, and for where it came in a sequence of four or five very challenging days.

It ended with the final Ash Wednesday mass for the year, with two dear friends, in St. Peter's Basillica, in the Vatican.

That mass is full of moments that like others from this series of anniversaries are both hopelessly blurred and incredibly clear.

I was wearing my hair in French braids, and the feeling of the ashes in the part of the braids is one I still recall.  The cross marked on my head.  That moment standing before the priest as he spoke (in Italian, or maybe Latin).  That day that reminds us of our fallibility - from dust we came, and to dust we will return.

It ushered in one of the most intense Lenten seasons of my life.  A season of fasting and praying and waiting and longing.

Today I'm remembering the ashes.  And the blessings spoken.  And praying for those who were with me in those moments.