My mother always wanted me to be neat, not messy. I was admonished for the spills down the front of my shirt, the stains that just appeared on my clothing, and I have been asked at least 1000 times if I have brushed my hair. Maybe you are neater. I sometimes wish I was. Most of want to be neat and clean, or we at least want to be presentable. This is especially true in church folks. After all, we wear our Sunday best to church. Our church clothes are some of the best clothes that we own. Yet, on Ash Wednesday we are invited to get down and dirty. Many have ashes put onto their foreheads in the symbol of the cross. Yes, this is to remind us our sin. I think it is also getting down and dirty. When else are we supposed to even talk about our sin, our shortcomings, our failures?
Most of our lives we work very hard to project an image of being pulled together. We want to project an image of being able to handle a meal without spilling down the front of our shirt, relationships, jobs, and anything else that comes along. During Lent, the church folks in their church clothes are able to confess to more than just their dry cleaners. We are able to say, “Yes, I’ve spilled my soup”, and a whole lot more. I have done unkind things. I have hurt others. I have not done what I know I could have done to help others. I have thrown tantrums. I have lost it completely, at times.
Lent is the season of being able to say that we have indeed gotten down and dirty. This gives us a chance not only to acknowledge ashes on our heads, but the evil in our hearts and lives. This is the first step toward a fuller life. This is the step when we tell the truth to ourselves and to God.
Come and get down and dirty.