Sunday, February 21, 2010

full circle

Yes, I realize that Ash Wednesday was last week. (How could I forget?) But the church calendar and my own thought processes don't always mesh, and I've been thinking about the special symbolism of the ashes… not just the dust to dust part… that too; but the fact that the ashes come from last year's palms. The ultimate recycle.

There was a legend that after Jesus' crucifixion, the disciples went to the garbage dump and found the palm branches from the previous week's triumphal entry into Jerusalem. I can't remember whether the branches were already burning or if the disciples burned them themselves, but supposedly they covered their heads with these particular ashes as a sign of their mourning.

That may be an urban legend, but it makes for continuity. The same materials used to recognize and glorify Jesus one week, were used to mourn him the next.

Life is like that. Living involves that. One person's trash is another's treasure. So we save the palms and the palm crosses we made last year to celebrate Jesus' triumph, and a year later we burn them to dust to remind ourselves of just how mortal we are.

No comments: