Thought For The Week
'Ash Wednesday is a reminder of our humanity' ~Jenni Friedman
Today Wednesday (Feb 14th) is a rare double celebration, Ash Wednesday and Valentine's Day. The last time this happened was 73 years ago back in 1945. Interestingly the next time it will happen is much sooner, in 2024 and 2029. It won't happen for a long time again after those years. Valentine's Day is a fixed day on the calendar but Ash Wednesday keeps moving and is decided by the date Easter Sunday falls on. Easter Sunday is always the Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox which is March 21st.
So a brief word about both celebrations. Ash Wednesday is a day that spiritually touches lots of people. There is something about getting a rub of dirty ashes onto our foreheads that has got huge appeal. So why do we put dirty ashes onto our foreheads on Ash Wednesday? A dark bowl of ashes may look stark and depressing but spiritually they can take on a new meaning. They are an outward sign that we're mortal, fragile and merely pilgrims passing through this world.
We also take the ashes to remind us that we are part of the creation of God and that we're also equal in God's eyes. They are ashes of hope reminding others that we're willing to do something positive in our spiritual lives. Side by side with Valentine's Day the ashes remind us of love and how every little gesture of love leaves a significant mark where ever we go.
Valentine's Day as we know is often hyped up into a commercial day: that you must give a card to someone, you must buy expensive flowers and you must go to a fancy restaurant to celebrate. The significant small meaningful ways in which it can be celebrated are often the best. When you take away all the trimmings that go with Valentine's Day, you are left with that precious gift called love. It is not just limited to romantic love. It's a day that celebrates every moment of love. If we say God is love then every moment of love brings with it an energy and a uniqueness that can't be found anywhere else.
It is we ourselves who do our best to limit the effects of love. Life knocks us and hurts us from time to time and we retreat into our hiding places. But love invites us back out of our darkness and uncertainties. Like many gifts that are given to us each day, we tend to take love for granted. Valentine's Day is a day to give thanks to God for this most beautiful gift that has endless power to create, heal and shape us into the beautiful person that we are.
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