Ash Wednesday is the day of one of my favorite religious rituals. There's something about getting to wear dirt on your forehead in the name of the Lord that's always appealed to me. It's also the day the Catholics are out of the closet. As I kid I would walk around amazed -- "Oh my God, he's a Catholic! And that lady is too!" However, now I realize that it makes us easy targets for anti-papist snipers.
I got my ashes at St. Pat's Cathedral (possible t-shirt slogan? God knows they sell everything else at St. Pat's) this morning and the priest really schmootzed me. On some people the ash looks like a thumbprint but on me it's a cross big enough to burn on somebody's front lawn. Perhaps he figured I needed a little more of the sacred ash than the other people in line.
The mark is right over where Hindus say your third eye resides. Is this a way the Catholic Church blocks and neutralizes the third eye? There's another possibility. In the Bible, Jesus makes a paste of mud and spit, rubs it in the eyes of a blind man and makes him see. Can the ash be seen as a reenactment of that healing, performed on our normally blind third eye?
I don't have my camera with me at work, so below is a fairly accurate artist's depiction of what I look like today.