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Ashes To ...

"I figure that this feature all by itself
qualifies me as fully human
and in decent enough company."

I am not a Christian in the same way that I am not a Buddhist, though I shamelessly borrow from both traditions. I relate most easily to the Deist notion as embodied by our equally non-Christian Founding Fathers, who saw evidence of deity in nature and in the higher inspirations visiting mere mortals. I take no solace in the presence of any God, vengeful or beneficent. I figure we're fine on our own here, however we came about, and I no longer labor in anticipation of any eventual reward. Life could be plenty rewarding without expecting some jackpot payoff or Hellfire damnation at the end. As a means for gaining social control, religion has enjoyed a mixed reputation, encouraging much discord as well as considerable harmony. Both the Nazis and the Allies believed that God fought on their side.

Ash Wednesday, though, qualifies as one of those Christian traditions I feel completely comfortable embracing.
Who could complain about a gentle reminder that we're all headed toward oblivion? The reminder seems to properly frame both our highest aspirations and our lowest vanities, rendering us more human. Our superstars and superheros share this same boat with us, destination certain. I'm reminded today of the absolute necessity of seizing this moment rather than waiting for some better time. I'm reminded of the inescapable equality of all people, regardless of social standing, and the absurdity of class distinctions.

My gifts seem especially fragile today, fresh produce aching for use. My yesterdays seem particularly meaningless today, as this precious moment will certainly momentarily evaporate into utter nothingness. I seek and I strive and sometimes forget just what it means to actually be alive. Alive has nothing to do with accumulation and everything to do with generosity. I am not much of a Capitalist, either, unwilling or unable to buy cheap and sell dear without feeling as though I've cheated the one I sell to. I invest most of my time producing what has no market value, though I'm still working on accepting that my purpose never was to become rich or famous. Wealth and fame seem especially hollow on Ash Wednesday morning.

Relationships seem to be the thing here. That which encourages relating, nourishes life. That which vilifies, denies the transitory nature of this place. None of us will inherit this world. Nobody ever has. Humility is not humiliation. Forgiveness seems about as close to any divinity I ever want to find myself. A close moment of contrition should give rise to many moments of closer attention to what I'm up to here. I was quite obviously born to be here at this very moment, I couldn't care less why. I try to do my best and stumble short much of the time. I figure that this feature all by itself qualifies me as fully human and in decent enough company.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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