Today is Ash Wednesday. It’s my favorite church day of the year. I love this yearly reminder that we are dust and to dust, we shall return; that we are mortal, finite. All of us have an expiration date. Remembering our mortality has the power to keep us humble, grateful, justice-seeking, and right-sized. One of the best ways I know to live a rich, full satisfying life is to regularly remember that someday – sooner or later – I am going to die. Remembering my mortality brings clarity – helps me to separate the important from the unimportant, and it helps me live a more satisfying life. Ash Wednesday reminds me not to wait to live a life that reflects my deepest values.
There’s an app called “weCroak,” croak as in a euphemism for death. It is inspired by a folk saying from the nation of Bhutan that says “to be a truly happy person, one must contemplate death five times daily.” The “weCroak” team has developed an app that they claim fosters happiness and cultivates mindfulness by reminding users about death. The app sends a text five times a day to your smartphone with the words:
Don’t forget, you’re going to die.
I learned about the app by reading an article written by a man who tried it for several months. Here is an excerpt of what he wrote about the experience.
Most of the alerts arrive when I’m in the middle of nothing much at all. I’ve received several while drinking coffee in the morning. My kids are asleep. My wife is in the shower. “Don’t forget, you’re going to die.” Nothing happens, but my coffee tastes better. Nothing changes, but I notice the sunlight pouring through the bay window. Before I had the app, I rarely found such pleasure in the mundane. A microdose of mortality can make the day glow.
I have to confess that the app didn’t do much for me. Perhaps because of my job as a pastor, I am more aware of death than most people are. And, who needs the weCroak app when we have Ash Wednesday?
And, Ash Wednesday does more than just remind us that we are going to die. It reminds us of God’s claim on our life, God’s love that reaches beyond the grave, God’s promise to be with us in and through all things. As much as we need a micro-dose of mortality, we need a macro-dose of God’s love for us and the world.
Come to Drive-Through Church, noon to 12:30 p.m., or 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. We won’t be placing ashes on your forehead but we will be saying the words we say every Ash Wednesday, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return” and, as we say those words, we will be creating an ash cross that you can take home with you. You will also receive a family-friendly Lenten Devotional called “Bless this Mess.” At home, watch online Ash Wednesday worship at 7:00 p.m. on Facebook and YouTube.
When you hear the words, “Don’t forget, you’re going to die,” what do you feel?
Share a favorite Ash Wednesday memory.
-Written by Rev. Amy Miracle
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