Wednesday, February 25, 2009

ash wednesday

When I was a practicing Christian, I used to love religious holidays, especially Easter. I really resonated with the theme of rebirth, wiping clean, starting anew that began with Ash Wednesday and ended Easter Sunday. And even though I don't go to church regularly anymore, I usually make the effort to go to Ash Wednesday services for those reasons.

Ash Wednesday portrait

I struggled with the idea of wiping off my forehead before returning the office; I didn't want people to make the mental shift in defining me as a super religious. I don't define myself this way, but semiotics are a strong force. However, I ran into one of my co-worker/mentors on my way in, and even though she expressed some surprise that I would be into this, she did confirm that the ritual is not so uncommon as to make people uncomfortable. I decided to keep it on, and just answer people's questions if they asked.

W, however, chose to wipe his off; he said that he didn't want to draw attention to himself. I can respect that. I think we're both struggling with the complicated way that religion plays out in this society, especially in the Bay Area. It's difficult to define yourself as part of a societal group when that group has been defined by highly vocal, minority members. I resent their setting the tone for the identity and co-opting the space, but I also feel strongly that the best way to bring that back to a reasonable conversation is to insert complexity into that dialogue.

1 comment:

Molly said...

I understand. So much that it hurts. Sometimes being religious is really hard, especially when other people have thoughts about what kind of person you must be if you are religious (or from a certain religion). Some assumptions are good, some assumptions are not.