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Ash Wednesday and International Women's Day 2014

Mar 07, 2014 — Categories: , ,

It is an interesting juxtaposition. Ash Wednesday, March 5 this year, began the period of Lent in the Christian calendar, a time of fasting and reflection, which precedes Easter. It is not a major religious holiday but it is customary to observe Ash Wednesday by receiving ashes wiped on one’s forehead or hand as a sign of our finitude.

It is an interesting juxtaposition.

Ash Wednesday, March 5 this year, began the period of Lent in the Christian calendar, a time of fasting and reflection, which precedes Easter. It is not a major religious holiday but it is customary to observe Ash Wednesday by receiving ashes wiped on one’s forehead or hand as a sign of our finitude. Author Sara Miles observes:

Ashes are a sign of our common mortality. It’s not a sign of initiation into the church. Ashes say, “You’re born and you’re going to die,” and that’s powerful for people. The act of giving ashes is an incredibly intimate moment. You’re touching the skin of somebody who is going to die with your skin, which is going to die, too. It’s very deep. And you’re also telling the truth. You’re saying that you actually can’t buy your way to living forever.

This reminder brings us back to an awareness of the preciousness of this one life we have.

March 8 is International Women’s Day when we pause to lift up the efforts of women to change the ways of the world that still see so many of us as second class and as targets for harassment and abuse. It is a good day to celebrate the remarkable changes we have seen in our lifetimes because women have refused to accept the way things are as the way they have to be.

I am also celebrating the anniversary of my ordination which always gives me pause to consider this journey I began in 1976, responding to a call to do whatever I could to address violence in the lives of women and children. It has been a path of great frustration and great joy.

As I consider this juxtaposition, I am matching the finitude of human existence with the limits to human endeavors. We can only do what we can do in the time we are given. But we can do much with the blessings we are given and we can be sure that the next generation is ready to pick up the task and move it forward.

I know that in my lifetime I will never see an end to the violence and abuse that women suffer in this world. But I do see women and men of good will who now stand together to say, “No More.”  No longer does injustice overwhelm us. No longer does the great silence stifle the truthtelling that must be done. Resistance is strong and enduring; healing is possible.

So we live in the paradox of Augustine: “Pray as though everything depended on God.  Work as though everything depended on you.”

And celebrate the small victories with a grateful heart, remembering that even in our finitude and limitations, we are not alone.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
www.faithtrustinstitute.org
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Thank you

Posted by Rhonda at Mar 07, 2014 06:01 PM
Your Lenten reflection and your life work inspire me today to continue to pray and to work for an end to intimate violence. Thank you.

Your ordination

Posted by Marvin Eckfeldt at Mar 07, 2014 06:01 PM
Marie, I am so glad you responded to the call that led to your Ordination to the Christian ministry. Yes, "It is a path of great frustration and great joy." Thank you for walking the path with faithfulness and commitment. So many of us have learned so much from you (and continue to do so!) Have a good day, friend.

Ash Wednesday and International Women's Day...

Posted by Grace Terry at Mar 07, 2014 06:02 PM
Rev. Marie, thank you for this thoughtful reflection and for your unwavering commitment to justice for all. Never doubt that you are making a HUGE difference for the entire family of God. You and I have never met, but I follow your work and knowing about you helps me to do all I can in my little corner of the world to make a difference. We break ground (sometimes hard, stony, and/or frozen ground, we sow seeds, we water, we pull weeds, we fertilize, we hoe, we pray for rain and trust God for the harvest, even if it comes after we are gone. Sometimes, we pick low-hanging fruit...I know you know what I am talking about. Blessings to you, dear sister. Grace Terry

Blog

Posted by Gail Crouch at Mar 07, 2014 07:28 PM
You are our teacher,pastor and a prophet
Thank God for you!

Ash Wednesday

Posted by Lester Stano at Mar 07, 2014 10:12 PM
Thank you for your spiritual insight to which all I can say is AMEN!

Anniversary

Posted by Elaine Shaw, OP at Mar 10, 2014 06:03 PM
Dear Marie,
Blessings of Joy and Peace to you on your ordination anniversary.
I am extremely grateful for "your one and only precious life."
Your theology, writings, workshops and retreats have enriched and blessed my life. I am indebted and grateful to you.
Cordially,
Elaine