Today was an Ash Wednesday that contained a lot of laughing.
I began the day at a simple mass, with Father Juan imposing the ashes upon my forehead with the phrase, “Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
When I came forward again to receive the body and blood, he glanced at the inaccurate name tag stitched on my jacket and said in a voice akin to Nacho Libré, “The Body of Christ, Bob.” I smiled.
Later, on Ninth Street, when we were getting our barbecue started, Arley came cruising toward us on his bike, Mr. Kent, ready to serve. I smiled.
Later, Arley had a Fritter Burger, which was created by taking Gilad's joke to heart and using an apple fritter for the bun around a burger. I smiled then, too.
We met Norman at the barbecue, and dropped him at the entrance ramp to the highway. He started out in Portland, and he was hitching his way to Vegas to see his 22 year old daughter. I blessed him as we parted ways and wished him safe travels. We pulled away, and I smiled.
And we laughed a lot today. Perhaps one of the funnest Ash Wednesdays I've had. Who knew you could get so much mileage out of a one-line Jodie Foster impersonation?
I tend to think of Lent as a season of seriousness and sadness, and of course those elements are involved, but it can also be a time of joy. As I repent from my sin, from my selfishness, I can truly experience repentance. This opens wide the doors of the gospel, the joyful Good News. God is with us, and he is changing us, turning us from darkness to light, from pretension to joy.
That's reason to smile.