Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mortality and Ash Wednesday

From the liturgy for Ash Wednesday at the South Bend Christian Reformed Church, March 5, 2014:

Mark: We begin our journey to Easter with the sign of ashes. 
This ancient sign speaks of the frailty and uncertainty of human life, 
calls us to heartfelt repentance, 
and urges us to place our hope in God alone. 

Paula: Almighty God, 
you have created us out of the dust of the earth. 
May these ashes remind us of our mortality and penitence 
and teach us again that only by your gracious gift 
are we given everlasting life 
through Jesus Christ, our Savior. 

I'm not comfortable with Ash Wednesday.  I don't like having that black smudge on my forehead.  I don't like looking at others with that smudge on their foreheads.  I go forward anyway--maybe as an act of humility and unity with others or maybe just peer pressure. 

I don't need many reminders of mortality.  At this point, I look at the ages in the obituaries and think--good, today most of them are in their 90s.  That gives me many more years of life.  Or I see that there are many in their 70s and think about having only a few years left.  

My mother-in-law is 94 and my step-mother is 98.  Both have dementia.  Dealing with my mother-in-law is a very strange experience. The snow banks are high around us on a Monday evening and she thinks it is a summer weekend.   My step-mother sends us a daily email that is mostly unreadable and refers to her daughter needing to get to the post office to mail it.  I don't want to live like that.

But I have no choice in the matter except to try to exercise and eat healthy and hope for the best.  I will meditate on the words Mark said last night "this ancient sign....urges us to place our trust in God alone."


  1. I worry about being a burden on others and needing to be taken care of as I age but as you say, no control over that at all. Thanks for this post Mary. Not only is it comforting to know others share my thoughts but your conclusion at the end is so true.

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