This is a nice, thought-provoking (and somewhat convicting) Ash Wednesday testimonial by Lauren F. Winner.
The imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday is nothing if not bold. A dark and undeniable slash across your forehead, a bold proclamation of death and resurrection all at once. I forget it is there, sashay out of church without thinking about it, until I get stares on the subway. There might be some neighborhoods in New York where forehead crosses on Ash Wednesday are commonplace. But on my subway, full of sophisticated Upper West-Siders, I see only one other person on the whole train with ashes.
When I get to campus, I feel truly uncomfortable. Columbia University, its charming chapel notwithstanding, is a place devoted to different types of truths, not so eager to proclaim this one. The cross also stimulates other people's questions. It provides an unmistakable opportunity -- even obligation -- to witness.
Since no one came to faith as a result of my ashes, maybe my Ash Wednesday evangelism wasn't a rousing success. But ... it did some spiritual work on me. I was brought face-to-face with my own discomfort about being a Christian on a secular campus.
Well said, Lauren.
I must admit that I have wrestled with some of the same issues of discomfort in my life. For example, my wife and I attended the “Love and Respect Conference” a couple of weekends ago. This was a weekend seminar talking about, among other things, a wife adhering to the biblical principle of giving her husband unconditional respect. You can imagine how that might go over with any secularist females. So when I arrived at work that following Monday, I had the obligatory inquiry of “What did you do this past weekend?” Even though the weekend conference was incredibly uplifting, I still found myself almost stammering through the response.
However, I don’t necessarily consider that a bad thing. It reminded me that I still need some guidance from the Lord in being a good ambassador for His kingdom.