Remember the nursery rhyme, “Ring around the rosie, a pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we all fall down?”
There was a time when we enjoyed nursery rhymes, but we eventually grew up. We became serious, mature.
Now we think it’s more important to keep up appearances, so we avoid looking silly.
An article in the NY Times a while back suggests the practice of psychotherapy in the United States has declined significantly. The reasons for this are complex, but researchers focused on one thing: psychotherapy involves the long, hard work of facing our own issues.
But today most people today blame others for their problems.
Psychotherapists used to see patients who were unhappy and wanted to understand themselves. Now they see more patients who come in “because they want someone else to change.” Fewer and fewer people are saying, ‘I want to change myself.'”
Ash Wednesday is about facing up to our own, most basic issues.
Ash Wednesday is the day when believers publicly acknowledge that we’re not perfect; that we don’t have all the answers; that we came from dust and that’s where we’re headed.
Ash Wednesday is the day above all days when it’s safe to acknowledge our vulnerability and our total reliance on God’s grace.
When we as believers fall down together; when we stop worrying about appearances; when we let down our defenses; when we allow others into our lives; when we let them know that we’re not perfect; that we don’t have all the answers, that’s when we’re most available to the reconciling work of Jesus Christ.
Today, we wear his ashes.
One day, we will wear his crown.