Sunday, February 18, 2018

More Thoughts On Ash Wednesday Metaphors

I've spent over two weeks thinking about Ash Wednesday and wondering if there are other metaphors we could use in addition to ash.  Let me capture a few more thoughts before I lose them.

But you might ask, why more metaphors?  What's wrong with ash?

Nothing is wrong with ash, but for those of us who grew up in churches that celebrate Ash Wednesday, the metaphor may have lost its power.  Some of us might have quibbles with the ash metaphor, especially as we clean out our fireplaces and fire pits.  We don't really turn into ash.  We turn into earth.

And I'm not suggesting that we change what we smudge on our foreheads every year.  Let me stress that.  In a way, it's cleaner to smudge ash that's made of burning last year's palms than it is to smear potting soil on our foreheads.

Tree branches and dead leaves are great Ash Wednesday metaphors, but not very far away from our traditional metaphors.  For our Ash Wednesday shadow box project, I brought in dried up banana leaves and dead flower that weren't decayed yet.

What are other metaphors for our eventual destiny?  I've been thinking of dryer lint, which is made up of particles of humans, after all.

Does old technology work as a metaphor?  I'm thinking of old hard drives that store lots of information, but we have no way to access it.  I'm thinking of old floppy discs.  I'm thinking of a DVD drive that I found in a drawer recently that seems to have no way of communicating with any of the technology that's in our house now.

If I worked in a hospital, I might come up with more metaphors:  perhaps the drip, drip, drip of a saline pack that will usher many of us across our last threshold.

This is the week that makes me think of smells that might be Ash Wednesday smells:  the spent gunpowder smell of a gun that's fired.  Old cooking smells.  That smell that's in hospitals that undefinable but unmistakable.  Smells are certainly harder to capture than visual images which may explain why churches and other artists do less with smells.

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