Reflections on Ash Wednesday

Published: February 23, 2012

The following reflections are offered as a personal contemplation on Ash Wednesday.

A hush of anticipation fell over the room, but it was not yet time. The conversation started up again, buzzing around the small, but cavernous room. The sunlight shone though the doors, illuminating the two tables in the center of the room; on the tables candles, and ceramic dishes.

This time, the hush was rewarded with two short taps on the bronze bowl, and then the wooden mallet began its trip around the bowls edge, bringing out the “song.” The echo of the song faded, ringing against the stone walls of the room, until the song was gone.

In the silence, a voice spoke, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then another voice spoke, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Familiar words in an unfamiliar setting. Comfort, discomfort.

There are many ways to observe Ash Wednesday, this one was unique. There were unusual elements, and familiar elements, candles and ashes, confession and hope, silence and singing, a Tibetan singing bowl, and a contemporary poem that reminded the participants that nothing lasts forever. Not a trip to the dentist, not a church service, not even Divinity School.

Terry Parrish
Second Year