During Ash Wednesday’s evening worship, Pastor Chad Boling said, “The water, oil, ashes, bread, and juice of Ash Wednesday are windows through which we see and experience the grace of God.” This is beautiful and captivating language, which hearkens back to Orthodox Christianity’s tradition of icons – those flat-looking paintings of Jesus and saints – which are called “windows to God.”
The wonderful thing about these windows is that, while we lift them up most in church services, they are really quite ordinary. Oil, ash, bread, water, juice: these are everyday items. (Ash alone is a little more rare if we don’t have fireplaces.) I see in these everyday items a deep theological truth: God is truly and intimately present in our everyday lives. Special rituals are great and to be celebrated, but we can also develop everyday rituals that create windows to God.
Here are some ritualized windows I’m seeking to clean off and open up this season. I’m recommitting to a daily prayer podcast to redevelop a practice of meditation (it’s called, Pray-As-You-Go). I’m practicing gratitude in the small things by naming and giving thanks for all the little ways I see the beauty and grace of God in the world: for example, the smell of dinner, the laughter of children, the tender shoots of green onions and flowers, and the bright blue of the sky.
What windows to God will you open up or clean off this Lent? God’s there. Open up.