Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. For about a decade, now, we have held Lenten Services each Wednesday at noon -- and we always kick off with the imposition of the ashes.
Until last year, I borrowed ashes from my buddy, Father Bill at the Catholic Church -- but then he retired, and my "ash stash" disappeared.
During my last borrowing, I asked the good reverend where he got the ashes. With a somber expression, he replied, "The funeral home, of course." Later, he admitted, to my disappointment, that he didn't get them from the funeral home at all ("And we wouldn't want THOSE ashes anyway" he explained, "They're much too clunky!") Rather, the ashes are from burning last year's palm branches.
"Wow, that's really something!" I exclaimed, "Recycled palm branches!!" There's some significance in that -- Last year's praise can be THIS year's ashes! But the beauty of Easter is that after the ashes -- we will find the praise again!
So, I started saving palm branches! I've been dong it for two years now.
Last year, I tried to burn them by cooking them in our kitchen stove. BAD idea!! The house filled up with smoke and smelled like a forest fire. Cathy wasn't too pleased with that!
This year, a couple of teens gave me a better idea -- burn 'em outside!! So this afternoon that's exactly what I did -- sort of like a pyromaniac! I took the brittle remains from last Easter, and set them ablaze! At least a half dozen people walked by while I was tending my palm branch bonfire in an aluminum turkey tin. Nobody said anything -- they just looked at me like I'd gone off my rocker or something.
Well, final results are in -- It WORKED!! I have some splendid ashes for the service tomorrow!! They're just as good as anything Father Bill ever produced -- and I didn't even have to go to the funeral home.
Speaking of Ash Wednesday, my buddy, Dale Argot, linked to a great post on the subject by Mark Roberts. Good stuff!