Ash Wednesday: "Memento Homo"
MEMENTO, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.--Genesis 3:19
Remember, human, that you are dust, and to dust you will return
A friend of many, many years (I don't have any other kind now) announced (he's a pastor) that he's offering "Ashes on the go" at a coffee shop this morning. It sounds like the right idea to me, for a church that has German E&R roots but probably doesn't know it anymore. In fact, I like it. Too bad he's too far away for me to drop by for coffee and a reminder of my mortality. Were it practical, I would even go barefoot; out of deference to the coffee shop, maybe sandals would be enough.
IN some monastic communities, monks go up to receive the ashes barefoot. Going barefoot is a joyous thing. It is good to feel the floor or the earth under your feet. It is good when the whole church is silent, filled with the hush of people walking without shoes. One wonders why we wear such things as shoes anyway. Prayer is so much more meaningful without them. It would be good to take them off in church all the time. But perhaps this might appear quixotic to those who have forgotten such very elementary satisfactions. Someone might catch cold at the mere thought of it.
--Thomas Merton, Seasons of Celebration