Out of respect for Ash Wednesday… I remind myself today of words I wrote years ago- but still very much mean.
I am truly fascinated by people’s souls. It seems that I relate in some way with almost every soul I have ever really known.
I was visiting a house full of men who had all recently been released from prison. I did not know what to expect but as we walked in with a few insignificant gifts for them to open around Christmastime my heart melted.
I saw an older man with his worn shirt tucked in, pouring lemonade, the grainy kind that you add water and stir, and cookies that looked store bought, but were arranged in a pattern on a plate. The other men were there to greet us with smiles as if they were welcoming the president. I had rushed getting there that night with sitters and carpools and wrapping but at the sight of these humble joyful men, my heart slowed and I wanted to be no where else. We went around the room and each man shared a little about his life.
Men with tears confessing with true ownership their weaknesses and mistakes. Hearts bleeding for the damage they had brought to those they love and hearts gushing at how God had forgiven them.
I wanted to be like them- these men recovering from the consequences of sin. I wanted to need God like them and feel broken like them and be transparent like them. It is as if they were already exposed…. already caught. Screwed up was written on their forehead- no need to act like it wasn’t. And something about that brought freedom.
And my soul resonates with that- blond, mom of four, pastor’s wife connecting with criminals fresh out of prison…. I am a human… and humans arrive with “messed up” on our foreheads. We come that way, somewhere between toddlerhood and grown-up we learn to put away our forehead sign. Sit up straight. Be good.
But before God I am no different from these men… my forehead is clean- my soul certainly is not. That day on an old beat up sofa with some old beat up guys, God showed up. God shone more through those accused and hurting men than through me… I’m getting more comfortable with messy forehead signs.
I am screwed up.
And Jesus is my hope.
Maybe my little protestant, evangelical self will start celebrating Ash Wednesday.