Sturm und Mom

The Storm & Stress (& Joy) of Motherhood

February Ashes

February discontent is rattling around my chest, blown by the icy wind to bump against my heart. Too many days inside, too little sunshine, no holidays, no presents, no big family dinners for months. Every year it’s the same thing at the same time. One professor I had announced to the lecture hall, that universities noticed an increase of suicide among students which peaked during the second month of the year. And spring break was born. That seems too cynical even to me, until I peer outside the window to see a sky the same shade of gray as the asphalt sidewalk.

It’s because of this that I so look forward to Ash Wednesday Mass, the beginning of Lent. It is probably my husband and my favourite. Why? First, it seems so Medieval — the immolated blessed palms from last year’s Easter season, turned into a remembrance of our mortality and sin, and marked on our foreheads. What modern would suggest doing that? It might hurt our self-esteem. Lead to anxiety.

Which also leads to the second reason: In this culture of Self Actualization, Self Realization, Who Ever Finishes with the Most Toys Wins, Shred It, Own It, I Did It My Way, and Branded People, it is refreshing to remember that no one is getting our of here alive. And it is beyond anyone’s ability to save her own soul. It is a stark reminder that everyone’s days, from the moment they take their first breath, are numbered and counted out, and that my life should not be taken for granted, and that my faith should not be taken for granted. It reminds me that what’s really important in life cannot be “achieved” through human will. And that Easter celebration will follow Lenten penance, like spring rebirth will follow winter’s long cold sleep.


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8 thoughts on “February Ashes

  1. God Bless you Liz! What a wonderfully profound Lenten reflection to begin this season….& here I was looking for a Lenten nugget! and there was yours in my in basket! Amen, I say, Amen!

    • Thanks Darlene! I’m so glad I left my beds unmade and came to Mass this morning. I feel so much calmer. And it was great to see you, too.

      God bless your (very busy) Lenten season!

  2. cinhosa on said:


    I enjoyed your reflection – particularly about how Lent could damage our self-esteem.

    When my wife and I took our 2 children to a service to receive ashes today, my 8 year old son dropped in $10 bill into a donation basket as we walked in. He earned from doing chores around the house.

    He just beamed the rest of the evening and told me that it made him feel good to give money “to people who need it more than I do.”

    It seems to me that this simple offer of sacrifice by an 8 year-old boy is what builds self-esteem. I am grateful that the Holy Spirit dwells within him.


    • Thanks Jeffery! I find that the better I think of myself, the less happy I am. Sometimes it’s nice to see that all your “problems” will not be around in 100 years!

      It sounds like you are doing a great job with your kids, if they are already so generous. I think you are right about the real foundation of self-esteem is looking to the needs of other people first. It sounds like you are doing a great job to bring your kids up to know the Lord.

      God bless your Lenten season.

  3. And I began my Lenten season by forgetting to go to the Ash Wednesday service. Nearly every day I find a reason to remind myself that God knows how flawed I am and loves me anyway. Ashes are gray, but point us to the light at the end of the tunnel.

    • What a wonderful way to put it! The grey in our lives can point us to the light, can’t it? With God’s grace, that is.

      Thanks Lynn! Have a blessed Lenten season, too.

  4. Brother James on said:

    Thanks for this wonderful reflection. Have a blessed Lent!

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