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Post Ash Wednesday Penitence

This morning I dragged my weary feet to the coffee pot and filled it to the brim.

Mug in hand, I spilled myself, half asleep, into the bathroom and squinted in the light at the mirror on the wall.

My eyes adjusted to the leftover ashes I forgot to wipe away.

The leftover ashes.

“There’s nothing like a little penitence smeared on your forehead to remind you who you are,” I mumble to my reflection.

Before the sun is up, with my coffee mug steaming and my eyes focused on the ash and olive oil across my face,

I wonder what it would be like if I lived every single day in the wrinkle of time that is Ash Wednesday.

They say Ash Wednesday is like taking the timeline between your birth and your death and scrunching it up so those two events are closer than we’re comfortable with.

But what if they were always closer than I’m comfortable with?

What if I lived everyday like my penitence was smeared across my forehead and my funeral was a foreseeable mark on my calendar?

What if I lived every day wrapped in how delicate and fragile this life is?

What if I lived every day claiming how undeserving I am of being claimed by the invisible and immortal?

What if I lived every day in the light of the realization that I will always be claimed by the invisible and the immortal?

What if I lived every day with the gut-wrenching remembrance that this life and this body and these talents and this laugh are on loan to me.

They are on loan to me and I am a steward of these resources.

What if I lived everyday deciding how to be a good steward of these resources?

“What if I lived everyday like a timeline wrinkled up between my birth day and my death day,” I ask my reflection before the sun is up with my coffee mug steaming and my eyes focused on the ash and olive oil across my face.

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