I am a Catholic and last year I had one of the weirdest and rarest observance of Palm Sunday. The country was already on a strict lockdown due to covid19 and I had to contend myself from hearing the Holy Mass in front of a TV. And since no one was allowed to go out then, the “palm” that I used was actually an outgrowth of a vine that I plucked from the few pots of plants in my balcony.
Today is Ash Wednesday. In the Catholic tradition Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lenten period. It is the season of repentance and reflection. It is also marked by a Holy Mass in which priests or church leaders will make the sign of the cross out of paste made of ash and sacramental oil on the foreheads of the congregants. Part of this tradition is that ashes are made from the palm fronds that have been burned from the previous year’s Palm Sunday.
Since I was lucky enough to have kept the fronds (dried leaves and vine) that I used in last year’s Palm Sunday and because I refuse to go to church due to the crazy scary pandemic, I decided to do my own observance of Ash Wednesday.
Part of my creating my own ash for the celebration of this special day is the symbolic burning of my sins. I decided to write down on a piece of paper my confessions and burn it at the same time with that of my last year’s Palm Sunday fronds.
With the thought in mind that “for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return”, instead of placing the formed ash on my forehead, I decided to return the ashes to earth. I alternatively add the formed ashes into the soil of my plants as a symbol new life with the hopes of a rosy spring for the rest of the year.
I know that my ceremonial version of this day is a total deviation on how a Catholic Ash Wednesday should be observed. But honestly, while doing what I was doing, I felt free, I felt light and I felt at peace. And I guess that is what matters on this holy day of Ash Wednesday.