I wanted to go get ashes today. Is that how you say it? I don't even know. I just know I wanted to do it and have wanted to ever since the day I found out you could.

That poor lady looked like she'd been hit. What could have caused a bruise on her forehead like that? Later another one. A kid with a bruise so much like the lady's. Weird. And then another, and I'm wondering if I'm in some kind of Twilight Zone. Until I tell my friend, who laughs and informs me it is Ash Wednesday and those are ashes on the foreheads of all the "poor" people I saw.

I don't even understand all the meaning behind it, I just know ever since I heard about it I wanted it. Because I love tradition, ceremony, anything that stands out in a day and reminds me of what this day, this life, is really all about. 

We didn't celebrate Lent in my interdenominational church growing up. Advent either. I remember the first time visiting the Catholic church with my husband's family at Christmas. I was in awe of the beauty, symbolism, reverence all pointing to the Christ I had loved ever since I could remember. Cathedrals do that same thing to me. The honor and effort testify to the import of Who is being remembered and celebrated.

So I am an outsider, a beggar, at the table of the traditional churches. But how I love to visit and soak in the beauty of their traditions, ceremony, and liturgical year.

But I didn't get there today. I wasn't sure how to go about it anyway. Getting ashes. Instead I bought a house with my husband. Visited said house. Grabbed lunch. Came home and said bye to husband who went out to buy a car. We don't typically buy house and car on the same day. It just happened to work that way, since Jeff's van got totaled two weeks ago and the rental from the insurance company expires in a couple days.

House. Car. But no ashes.

Em and I sit down to tea and enjoy the quiet. It's rare to be alone here, so we take advantage and do something we couldn't otherwise. Like talk without being interrupted.

Talking with Em always teaches me. She experiences everyday life at a level I'm not familiar with. She sees color everywhere. Hears music in thoughts. Feels deep. Hurts deep. As we talk, she let's me in to the cathedral of her soul where she shares her bruises. Not the kind drawn on with ash, but pounded in by pain.

Then she tells me how she is learning of love through loss. Faith through failure. Hope through hurt. How she's realizing we are all "poor" people. And I see the beauty that's rising from the ashes of struggle. Purified by fire. Tested in trial. 

And I've been ashed.

Is that how you say it?