When Father Bill retired, I lost my ash stash. Before leaving town, he finally divulged that the ashes come from last year’s Palm Sunday branches. So now I hoard dead palm branches in my filing cabinet.
The first time I tried to burn palm branches, I nearly set the house on fire, and our smoke alarm shrieked. Cathy sent me and my pan of smoking palm fronds out the back door, and instructed me to never burn them in the oven again. So, I’ve had to take my cremation operation outdoors.
It’s fitting that the ashes are leftovers from Palm Sunday. We can’t depend on yesterday’s praises to get us through today’s problems. Former glory fades to ashes and dust.
A couple of years ago, while smudging foreheads, I decided what to sacrifice for Lent. Normally, people give up stuff like candy, coffee, television, and Facebook in order test their spiritual resolve.