In 2018, Ash Wednesday coincides with Valentine’s Day. A celebration beloved of florists, chocolate shops, restaurants and greeting card companies, it serves as good a day as any to say “Thank you” or “I appreciate you” or “I love you!”. But this day also begins the Lenten journey, as we travel through the 40 days of the season. We walk this path aware that it will bring us to the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrows, and to the Easter proclamation of God’s love proclaimed in joyful alleluias.
Today, as we receive the Imposition of Ashes, we are reminded of the “uncertainty and frailty of human life” and our need for repentance and forgiveness, as individuals and as a faith community. It is worth reflecting on the fact that hardwood ashes are one of the key ingredients for lye-water, used for traditional soap making… adding perhaps a new perspective to the familiar Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart O God.”
Question: What, in your life, needs cleaning?
Ash Wednesday is also one of the two proscribed fast days, the other being Good Friday(yes, in the Anglican Church!) . You may wish to try fasting from solid food until you receive your Communion at night or to simplify your meal plan that day to a bowl of soup.
Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup Serve with some crusty bread or cheese and crackers.
Cube a butternut squash(easier if you microwave it for a bit first, peel and seed). In a pot cook squash with enough water to keep it from sticking, until very soft, then cool. In the meantime, chop an onion(and/or the white part of a leek or a few shallots). In a pan cook onion in a little olive oil(or other oil or fat) until softened. Add salt and pepper and puree the squash and onion in a blender until smooth. Heat gently. Options: Add curry powder (2 tsp or to taste) to the onion and cook for a couple of minutes. Add to puree. Add some coconut milk(canned, or reconstituted from dried). Or, add cream or sour cream. Add cooked carrots or sweet potato and puree with the squash. A bit of sriracha? Do you have any fresh herbs, parsley, basil, chives? Chop and sprinkle on top to serve.