I got ashed.
February 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
In the “About” section of my blog, I refer to life as a path through the woods. It is my (very small, meek, willing-to-acknowledge-it-might-be-wrong) opinion that each of us has a path through this so called life. No matter who you are, there are steep climbs and long, monotonous trails complete with rocks and surprise moose. If you look back at your path, it’s easy to see how one thing prepared you for another and, for me, it’s easy to see where I’ve gone tromping off into the brush by myself, walking away from Jesus. Then, you can see where I fought through the mess that is undeveloped forest and came back to daily walks with God.
My path isn’t the same as yours, nor is yours the same as his, and we, as individuals, have to figure out what we believe and why as we fight through the woods. How Jesus speaks to you and shows Love to you won’t necessarily be the same as me. And that’s just fine. Right now, I am on the edge of a wide clearing, catching my breath and in awe of where I am. It is beautiful.
As I have walked along, I have grown to sincerely love liturgy. I’m on a personal mission to visit as many cathedrals as I can in this life and, on Christmas Eve, I want to sing hymns at the latest night service possible and be surrounded by fellow believers of Jesus Christ as the day of His birth begins.
On the whole, it’s a bit too stuffy for me to do full time. I need to move, be a little (or a lot) loud, have the freedom to worship Jesus like I want to. If you want to yell at him, or pray through yoga, or have a full on argument during your run, you do it. Go. to. town. Only kind of related, earlier this week, I got to meet the McClure’s! Folks definitely more my regular speed that I learned of through the beautiful Hannah Anderson. We sang in Czech and, while I had thought it a beautiful language before, my appreciation increased exponentially on Sunday.
But, on Ash Wednesday (as well as Maundy Thursday), I’ve grown quite attached to spending time in reflection through a quasi-formal service with other believers of the Christian faith. Vintage21, sincerely, I miss you. As a broken human, there is so much healing just through confession of how messed up I really am. And though I’ll spare you the details, after the past couple of weeks, my soul needed it.
So, I let my fingers do the exploring and found an Anglican Episcopal church with an Ash Wednesday service in English just south of the river that splits Prague in half. I walked in to a gorgeous building built at the turn of the 20th century, to find a beaming woman hand me the order of service and a hymnal. The sanctuary was tall, breathtaking, and freezing cold. Still bundled up, I took a seat on a dark and creaky wooden bench and, almost immediately, realized that there were radiators underneath my seat. Despite this, I wore my gloves for everything except communion and did not mind one bit.
Around 20 of us sang hymns I’ve never heard in that freezing sanctuary with the brilliant acoustics. For a majority of the readings and teachings, a short girl, she couldn’t have been more than 3, did laps around my section of pews. Sporting a lavender puffy jacket, rainbow-colored beanie with a pom-pom, and flouncy red skirt, I couldn’t help but want to chase her. Her giggle was infectious and, though service was going on, no one seemed to really mind the cute little girl with the pom pom that couldn’t seem to sit still.
Twice I went to the altar. Once to receive the ashes and again to partake in communion. We formed a semi-circle on the old, hard, altar floor to receive the bread and the cup. Silent reverence was kept afterwards and I was thankful for a chance to have some true alone time in order that I may hear more clearly.
At the end of it all, they were all so gracious. I’ve been invited back for Sunday services and for lunch after, if I’d like. The congregation hails from all parts of the world and, at the tram stop on my way home, I was approached by Daniel. He was born in India and has been in the Czech Republic for over a year. We got a lot of stares standing on that platform, our ash crosses on our foreheads.
En route home, I received quite a lot of stares. As always, I forgot I had anything on my face and didn’t understand why everyone was staring. Was I being overwhelmingly American? Did I have a booger?
Let ’em stare.
Thankful am I that Love, with a capital L, is a universal concept. And despite my location, or immediate surroundings, the journey is still the joy and God is still God.