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the cross on her forehead

February 27th, 2004 · No Comments

On Wednesday while walking into Safeway and grabbing a cart, I saw a woman at the check-out buying her groceries. There was something on her forehead that seemed unusual, and it took me a moment to realize what it was. I didn’t grow up going to church on Ash Wednesday and I think perhaps this was one of the first times I had seen the cross of ash on a forehead.

Later that afternoon, I heard this piece on NPR’s All Things Considered by Lauren Winner Commentary on Ash Wednesday , describing her experience, what it was like to walk around with an ash cross on her forehead – below are quick notes from one run through the audio link

The imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday is nothing if not bold. The whole day is bold…You walk out of church with this brash living reminder that Christ died for us….I got stares on the subway….I felt all the more uncomfortable when I got to campus…The ash cross on my forehead I realized was a type of evangelism…Walking around with a cross on your forehead is another matter altogether. I felt unhidden. Uncloseted. Embarrassed. The ashes on my forehead told a story…one student asked me where to go to church…another student accosted me…a third student sat me down, burst into tears and told me her parents were divorcing..I wondered if this happened to nuns walking down the street in their habits
The cross on our foreheads…also prompts other people’s questions…that I have turned my life around a curious story around a man who died on a cross…

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