On our recent road trip, HH and I listened to the memoirs of both Tina Fey and Jane Lynch. I like the way funny people tell stories. But most funny people have endured a profound measure of pain that has informed their lives and helps explain their brokenness.
Tina Fey talks about being the dark-haired Greek girl with the unibrow at the University of Virginia among lithe yellow-haired sorority girls. Jane Lynch talks about feeling like an outsider, struggling with addiction and other demons, and allowing people to love her even if she didn’t love herself. In the epilogue, she speaks of “happy accidents” that people of faith might call providence. I kept wanting her to acknowledge that – just maybe – there was some kind of cosmic, holy power behind these “accidents.”
On this Ash Wednesday, we remember that ashes are part of all of our lives. Some of us are merely dabbed with them. Some are coated with them. Some of us live in a place where it looks like thick volcanic ash is covering everything.
My favorite David Hayward cartoon is this one. We all have stuff in our respective closets. Most of us hide our ashes in there.
But today is the day we begin – once again – to recognize that we need to clean out our closets, wash ourselves off, and clear the air everywhere possible. I know I need this and I call it a God thing. But whether we call it a God thing or not, Lent is a universal necessity. It’s crucial for our souls.
The image is a sculpture of the Chilean military hero Arturo Prat, covered with ash from the Chaiten volcano (2008).