Having just celebrated Ash Wednesday, I was reminded that it is pretty much the only day of the year I think about ashes.
Did you know that soap can be made from ash? I didn’t. I only know that you buy it at WalMart.
But Wood Ash, with water and some oil can be combined to make soap. What seems dead, dry and exhausted of all energy, now gives one more time to cleanse and renew!
And did you know that ash can be used in compost to enrich the fertilizer? Wood having given its whole life to warm and illuminate, but even beyond the ash helps nourish and bring forth new life.
And did you know that ash can also help gardeners keep insects away when sprinkled around the perimeter? Worms, slugs and snails are deterred by the dry ash protecting the plant life growing in the garden.
And did you know that ash can be used to polish tarnished metals when combined with water? It can bring shine and beauty to that which is worn, tired, and dull.
Ash: in Soap it cleanses, in compost it nourishes, in gardens it protects against pests, in cupboards it restores shine, AND on Ash Wednesday it marks our repentance and desire to return to Christ. That repentance, by the grace of Christ pouring out His life on the wood of the cross: nourishes you, protects you, shines your soul, and cleanses you.
What appears to be useless is useful in so many ways. I had no idea. I guess folks who were more connected with making their own soap/compost/polish/insecticide in the 2000 years prior to the invention of WalMart might have better known this. No wonder folks have used ashes for millennia as a sign of repentance and renewal. And now my understanding of the riches of this liturgical gesture? Boom!
pax et bonum,