26 February 2009

Creative Ashing

Yesterday being Ash Wednesday, or the Day of Ashes to give it its proper name, I made a point of going to mass in the morning. I'd been talking about it with a friend the previous day, who was trying to remember whether it had been me -- it hadn't -- who'd said to her that people like going to mass on Ash Wednesday because they get free stuff.

'Free stuff?' I said, 'Like dirt?'
'Well, yeah.'
'Hmmm. We used to spoof Ash Wednesday in school by using the dust from the tables in the school canteen. It was our science teacher, who was supervising there one day, that started that craze... Do you reckon Ash Wednesday's dirt is better than Palm Sunday's leaves?'
'No,' she said. 'Palm Sunday's far better, because then you can make the leaves into the shape of a cross and keep them.'
'I've done that many times,' I said.
'So have I.'

So yes, I went to mass yesterday morning, like I said, and listened to the readings that tell you basically not to go round moping when you're fasting, as it's not about getting brownie points from your neighbours -- though would fasting really impress your neighbours nowadays anyway? Especially given the far from arduous system of fasting that we tend to go by now.

If anything, it'd surely just cause people to look at you a bit askance.

Anyway, during the mass, when it got to the time for the ashes to be imposed, I couldn't help but stare at all the people ahead of me coming back down the aisle. I'd never seen so much ashes. Not for this priest the discreet grey smudge of the archdiocese of Dublin. Oh no. This fellow clearly went in for the whole shebang, great big black strokes, darkening your whole brow. This was an ashing that was designed to last.

So I went up, and received my ashes, and carried on with what needed doing this morning and eventually came home and looked in the mirror, to see that the priest hadn't so much put the sign of the cross on my brow, but the Batsign! I looked like some odd Bruce Wayne cultist.

And indeed, I looked that way till I washed the ashes off at bedtime.


Tom said...

So you picture yourself on this now? Au revoir, anonymity...

The Thirsty Gargoyle said...

What makes you think that's me? Because it's a blurry picture of someone with a batlike blot on his brow? Could be anyone, really.

Tom said...

It does now that you've changed it

The Thirsty Gargoyle said...

Fair point, though mine was too.