Ash Wednesday Closet Cleaning

Next week we will begin Lent with the observation of Ash Wednesday. Its name comes from the ancient practice of placing ashes on worshipers’ heads or foreheads as a sign of humility before God, a symbol of mourning and sorrow at the death that sin brings into the world. We claim responsibility for ourselves, noticing everything around us such as the possessions we hold valuable and the persons we love. We know that all will one day turn to dust. 

This Communion stole is on sale!
Looking at the history of the symbolic use of ashes it is interesting to note an old custom. From what I understand in Italy it was the tradition at the end of winter to burn all the old junk one had accumulated over the year. The village square was the collection spot for the whole community's discards. Rather than have a yard sale, or a garage sale, everyone simply had a good house cleaning and piled up the old chairs and mattresses. From this came the tradition of spring cleaning. 

Ash Wednesday is a somber day of reflection on what needs to change in our lives if we are to be fully ChristianIs spring cleaning a type of self-examination? We clean house, inside and outside. We let in the fresh air, shake out the rugs, clean out the closets. We can assemble all the inner useless accumulations of our life style and throw them in with the dust and ashes that we take up each church calendar year on Ash Wednesday. 

This baptism stole  is on sale!
I can think of quite a few areas of my personal life that need some spring cleaning...the kitchen cabinets could use a good overhaul and the attic is showing signs of being way too full of items not ever used. My prayer life will hopefully be "cleaned up" during Lent as I work my way through "Lord Teach Us to Pray", A Guide to Prayer produced by the Office of Spiritual Formation of the PCUSA and Praying Like Jesus: The Lord's Prayer in a Culture of Prosperity by James Mulholland and get on a better path that draws me closer to God. And at Carrot Top Studio we've sorted through the online store and put some new items in our sale category. Many of these have just one left in stock so don't miss the opportunity to grab a unique, handcrafted ministry stole for $49 + S&H.

How do you mark Ash Wednesday?