Christian Living, Grieving, Prayer

why i got the ashes

 i think it’s because of the ashes.

i posted the picture and  lost 5 facebook friends today.

don’t get me wrong, i’m not torn up over it, i just noticed it.

i lost 5 “friends” today.

didn’t post a pic of some mean, wierd thing.

nothing you can’t show your kids. nothing sacreligious.

i got the ashes today, ash wednesday.

why? because, it’s ash wednesday. that’s why.

i was raised in the catholic faith-went to catholic school, cried at my sinful behavior at my first confession

left the church when i went to college. i just didn’t see the point.

but, even then, i got the ashes. in fact…i got kicked out of acting class my freshman year




“what’s that on your head?”, my prof asked. “it’s ashes. it’s ash wednesday.”

“oh, i’m sorry, you’re going to have to leave. it’s just too distracting having you in here.”

holy illegal, batman. but i didn’t know and even think of doing anything but obey…

i submitted to the wrong authority.

in the sermon on the mount, jesus said

“when you give to the poor, when you fast.”

today the church takes time to admit something. to declare something.

we are sinful.

we are selfish.

we need a savior.

not to popular. not sexy. but it’s true and it’s ugly and sometimes life is , too. sometimes i am-ugly.

i didn’t just get the ashes today to confess that, though.

i got them in solidarity with the church. with me family.

i did it because i felt called to.

i did it because i can.

because there are people who would literally die to walk around with a cross.

today, i choose to carry this particular cross.

because jesus said to carry our cross and follow him.

lent is a season of repentance. confession and self denial.

today, as i walked though the parking lot at st. brigid’s catholic parish, i thought

“i hope they let me get the ashes. i hope they don’t ask me if i’m catholic and tell me i can stay, but i can’t get ashes.”

i was late the service. in fact,

it was over when i got there.

the organ was ringing it’s last as i opened the hand-carved wooden door. there was father o’brain.

“guess i’m too late”, i said. “stick around for a few. i can hook you up.”


when i was catholic, i missed the point. maybe it was because jesus was still hanging on the cross.

today, as he dipped his thumb into the brass bowl, he prayed

“remember, you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

what a good good thing to remember.



14 thoughts on “why i got the ashes”

  1. Shannyn,

    Thank you for sharing your story over on the High Calling page. And may God bless you in this Lenten season. … I grew up not getting ashes, but now attend a church where Ash Wednesday and Lenten services are a part of our lead-up to Easter. It has been an enriching spiritual experience, reminding me of my constant need for a Savior.

    – Jennifer Lee
    Contributing Editor @

  2. This is very good.. thank you for sharing Shannyn.. it is unfortunate that some folks are not ‘open’ and willing to let God lead them to do what is meaningful to them and they end up missing out on a blessing. Glad you didn’t miss out on the blessing God has for you… Keep listening and following.. your love for Him is evident!!!

    p.s. always enjoyed your show on WMUZ.. you are missed

  3. I also was raised catholic. I have not gotten ashes in a long time but I agree with your reasoning. It is time for the church to put away all OUR differences and love each other. If you want to express yourself this way then God Bless and I support you because it is in your heart.

  4. We are all one church, one body one baptism. The Ashes come from the palms from the previous Palm Sunday. He goes from the exciting entry into Jerusalem, to his brutal death, to his Glorious and Triumphant Resurrection! The ashes represent God becoming Man so it is truly ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

    Oh yeah, I love hearing people say “There is something on your forehead”. Gives me a chance to introduce them to my Savior.

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