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Ash. Dirty ash. Traditionally the ash came from burnt palm branches, saved from the previous year. A reminder of the continuity of the story — to say nothing of needing an annual reminder — what began last year, continues this year.
 

Not coming from a tradition that uses real ash to mark the day, I don’t know what it’s like to be marked by another. To raise my head and walk out of that holy space for all to see. But I do know what it is like to be touched by sin. To be marked in ways that are visible to nobody and everybody.

This morning the water never turned warm enough to bathe. I didn’t desperately need to clean the outside of my body, and so I unofficially marked the beginning of Lent by not washing away the leftover dirt from yesterday. Earlier I wondered why we spend more time cleaning up the outside, ignoring the inside.

Ash Wednesday reminds us they are linked. Intertwined really. Both in need of the redemption freely offered, but paid for dearly. OutsideIn and InsideOut, the bridge that Jesus came down to cross.

Thank you Lord for caring about the inside and the outside. For linking both. For redeeming both. OutsideIn and InsideOut.

How will this Lenten season touch both your outside and inside?

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