'Ash Wednesday is a kind of a spiritual New Year, a time to make resolutions, to wipe the old slate clean and begin again. Still others seek a more intimate connection with God. Some could not tell you why they search out a church on Ash Wednesday, it just seems the place to be.' ~Virginia Smith
Today Ash Wednesday is hugely popular. But because of all the restrictions the distribution of ashes is very different this year. Some churches are making the ashes available in small envelopes so that people can collect them throughout the day. But this is optional and may not suit everyone. So if you can't get the ashes today it's ok. Please God we will be in a position to give them out normally again next year.
So why ashes today? It is not a good luck gesture or magical. But like many Christian symbols it's intended to remind us of something. At one time, ashes were used to make soap. Ashes contain alkali, a soluble chemical that is a powerful cleaning agent. Symbolically and spiritually Lent can also be a time of cleaning and a washing away of negativity, hatred, selfishness, anger, hurts and other stuff that needs to be cleaned away. Ashes have also been traditionally used as a fertiliser. Farmers used to burn the stubble of last year's crops and the ashes were then ploughed into the soil. New crops could then grow with vigour and energy.
Lent can also be a time to put some vigour and energy into our spiritual lives, to allow room for growth particularly light, hope, courage and many other blessings. Whether you get ashes or not today, what would you like cleaned or washed away in your life? What growth, new beginning would you like to see happen in your life? There is much to look forward to this Lent despite the pandemic and all the current restrictions.