Remember the old saying, "I'm on the right side of the dirt; I'm doing just fine"? I've modified it to say "My intestine is on the right side of my belly; I'm doing just fine". Thank you, Jazzman.
I went to see him Wednesday after the Lent service at church. I had the smudge of ash on my forehead as a stark reminder of my own mortality. In the car, driving to the hospital afterward, I caught a glace of myself in the mirror. No doubt, there was a dark cross shaped smudge on my forehead. We're told to leave it for the day, but I struggled with that idea.
"What's the difference between me wearing a dark, obvious smudge on my forehead and walking into a public building than the man who stood on the street corner praying?" I asked Cameron as I drove. Seems to me that, like the man praying loudly on the street corner, I would be rewarded like that man by drawing attention to myself: "See how pious I am. I went to Lent service at church." That attention being a reward rather than a reminder of my own mortality.
Moreover, I was going to visit a possibly dying man. It's one thing to remind myself of my own mortality. It felt wildly inappropriate to remind Jazzman of his. He already knew.
Nowhere in the bible does it state we should paint ourselves with ash. We use it as a custom to remind ourselves of Jesus' sacrifice for us. We use to become mindful of our own eventual return to ash. Within a community of believers, the ash is shared and we are all sinners and saints together. However, I felt that venturing into a hospital wearing ash on my forehead would be like the man who prayers publicly on a street corner to draw attention to himself. So I wiped it off.
I was quite relieved to have done so, after gaining my first glimpse of Jazzman's intestine on the wrong side of his belly. Bear in mind, his cheer and kindness. The nurses are all fond of him and brag that he's the most gracious patient on the floor. He's a true gentleman.
There's nothing in my life that's all that bad today. I have my intestine on the right side of my belly.