Yesterday I searched for something like I used during Advent that would relate the celebration of Lent with my preschoolers. Not having found anything I decided to wing it. I spent the day continuing to examine my actions and thoughts to discern whether or not they were rooted in love. Many of them weren't, but as the day progressed I noticed some of my natural tendencies being supplanted by a supernatural calm and peace.
Since my church doesn't have an Ash Wednesday service we celebrated the holiday by the compost pile for the sake of fire safety. Knowing that my children wouldn't be able to hang for the entirety of Psalm 51, I chose two key verses: 9Hide your face from my sins, and wipe out all that I have done wrong. 10Create a clean heart in me, O God, and renew a faithful spirit within me (GW). We talked about the biblical significance of ashes representing mourning or sorrow for sins and how God completely forgives our sins when we ask as well as giving us clean hearts to not sin again. We chose a sin to write on the paper and put it into the compost pile to burn it.
Our lighters never work well, and I was struggling. A young man walked by, an odd occurrence on our busy sidewalk free street. He heard the clicking of my lighter and asked if we would like to borrow his. He came over and asked if we were making compost. His name was Jordan, and we shared with him what we were doing (aside from making compost). He must have at least some knowledge of God because when we thanked him he responded, "anything for the good Lord." It was deeply meaningful to watch our sins symbolically turn to ash, although I suspect the kids were more in awe that we were actually playing with fire. We'll see if anything comes of meeting Jordan, but I thank God that he gives us beauty for ashes as we grow into trees of righteousness (Is. 61:3).