I opened an email from an Anglican friend wishing me a 'happy Ash Wednesday' which seemed an odd kind of greeting, if a pleasant one.
Yesterday was spent with some C of S colleagues in Dunblane being quiet on a retreat day. It was a good day, with plenty to ponder and enough space to draw breath before heading into Lent proper. There was a vague Ash Wednesday theme going on, but it was more the idea of "greening", the new life that comes with spring as the days lengthen (the word Lent has its origins in Lenct which means lengthen). The day ended with an ashing ritual, which was quite meaningful, but, not being Anglicans or Catholics, we all carefully wiped off the ashes before setting off for the train back to Glasgow. I'm not a massive fan of 'ashing' and always find the traditional words 'from dust you came and to dust you will return' rather discomfiting - even if they are valid.
And so to my daily readings from Genesis, which focused on the Genesis 2 creation story in which God first fashions Adam from dust, then the animals (cf chapter 1!) before making Eve from Adam's rib. Although the theme of the notes was about morality, it was the making from dust that resonated in my mind. The very 'earthiness' of our physical origins and the very 'Godly' breath of life are intimately linked. It seemed to give me a more upbeat 'Happy Ash Wednesday' sense after all.
Just as a total side, yesterday was a glorious sunny day, despite a heavy frost. The room in which we met overlooked Dunblane Cathedral and as the morning passed the frost melted to reveal green grass - except in the shadow of the church. I couldn't help wondering if maybe this was a symbol of the institution standing in the way of the greening!!