As we are surrounded by inches of falling white stuff we begin the Great Fast. After the year 2020 was, and 2021 has begun, I think it a good time to be reminded of our mortality and its Cure. I know that I need Christ more each day, and need to commit to becoming more like Him each day.
So with that said, on to the annual re-post.
I recently enjoyed a very special cigar as I was working my way through a demanding text. I was alone, and thought it a good day to dive into my reserve. That particular cigar was a Tatuaje robusto, and it has been aging for four years and was a thoroughly delightful creamy smoke. In fact, I delighted in this cigar so much, that I closed the book and just enjoyed the experience of the taste, the smell, and watching the smoke curl toward the ceiling and fill the room with its aroma. It tasted of heavy cream, cinnamon, clove, and a slight hint of pepper. The room note reminded me of “Blanc” incense. So, I just sat back and relaxed, and tried to make it last as long as possible.
Unfortunately, as with all good cigars, at the end of the hour there was just a pile of ash left in the tray, and a memory of that smoke upon my taste buds. I was sorely tempted to open the box and smoke another, but realized that would not be a wise decision, and looked with a bit of melancholy at the remains of what had been a great cigar, and was not but just a memory. This is the fate of all cigars and pipe tobacco, no matter how expensive, how great, how cheap, or how terrible, all of them become just a pile of ash at the end of the day. They burn up, they burn out, and they are no more than a memory.
Is that not the lesson of Ash Wednesday? We are all destined to be just like that great cigar. No matter our station in life, rich/poor, wise/foolish, Republican/Democrat, beautiful/homely, or any other label, we are all destined to become nothing but a pile of ash. We will die. This is not because we are “used up”, but because of the effects of Sin. As the Good Book says, “The wages of sin is death”, and we all get paid.
However, this is what makes the Christian faith different; we have hope beyond the ashiness of our existence. Because of Christ, his Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection, we have hope that this mortal body, though used up and ashy, will be raised and made new. Because of Christ, death is not the end, and those who are found in Him will be raised like him.
On this day, when we remember our mortality, our common destiny to be put a pile of ash, let us repent and return to the Lord who can raise a pile of ash to new life.
May you have blessed Ash Wednesday.