Happy Ash Wednesday?

Guess you don't say "Happy Ash Wednesday!" Do you? Still, the dawn was beautiful today, and early, the light is back and we are gaining minutes each day now. This morning in the kitchen we talked about what we are giving up for Lent. Jan, our priest, says that you are not supposed to go around suffering and acting all holy about it. Lent is meant to be a personal journey toward renewal of faith (or perhaps finding it?) The fasts help focus you on that task. I prefer more active Lents, the year I learned the rosary was a great Lent.  Anyway, JJ said, "Whatever you do, don't give up coffee, wine, or chocolate, then we will be the ones miserable for forty days."  Funny, I had been thinking about giving up one of those, or maybe two-- but I'd hate to torture my family with my new virtue, you know? I have instead decided to say something  nice to my husband first thing every morning. I'm not grumpy exactly, but it is so easy to moan about the fire going out, or the snow, or the TV news which he watches and I loathe--the candidates especially are making me crazy--that I will intentionally work on banishing winter's "ughs." I'll need some help with that, so I'm going to read the daily devotions on the handy leaflet Jan gave us at church, three times a day,  beginning with this morning prayer:

Create in me a clean heart, O God, renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence and take not your holy Spirit from me. Give me the joy of your saving help again and sustain me with your bountiful Spirit.

We have church this evening, it is the service when the ashes of last year's Palm Sunday palms are  rubbed on your forehead by the priest making a sign of the cross and saying, "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."  This is not as grim as it sounds. Who hasn't left  a funeral determined to make sure  they are a better person? To let the people you love know it? To be sure you don't let an argument fester? Being aware that this life is short and uncertain, is a good thing, I think. The Chilkat River flows on top of an ancient fjord. Geologists say the glacial till, a very fine dust carried into the valley from these  slow (one hopes anyway) melting rivers of ice has filled up the thousand foot deep canyon. At low tide, especially this low water winter season, the tide flats are expansive. This morning on our walk I couldn't help but feel comforted that all this dust was holding me up, and that I am from it, and will someday return to it. There is something eternal in these hills and valleys, and I aim to be a grateful part of it.  Happy Ash Wednesday.

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