It’s Ash Wednesday. But instead of ashes, let us anoint our foreheads with seawater. And call it Wet Wednesday.
You have heard, “From dust you have come, and to dust you shall return, repent…..” But here at the Blue Theology Mission Station we say, “Yes, our origins are humble, but we were not born literally from dust (just as the Bible is not literally a science textbook!)
So I’ll tell you again (I wrote about this last Ash/Wet Wednesday) of a favorite spiritual text, Your Inner Fish by University of Chicago paleontologist Neil Shubin. (Also a PBS special.) He discovered the fossil Tiktaalik, the animal that transitioned, 365 million years ago, from sea to land. She has fishy fins and scales, but also the beginnings of hands and a neck.
She is our saline Eve.
Shubin explains, clearly and with wit, how so many parts of our bodies bear the marks of our origin in the sea. “We are not separate from the rest of the living world, but part of it down to our bones.”
For example, our salty tears, our salty blood, our salty sweat – they are all the exact same salinity of the sea, legacy of our birthplace.
And even our mother’s amniotic fluid – a salty inner sea.
So if we cry today in repentance, our tears are sea salty. If blood is a symbol of Lenten sacrifice, our self discipline is sea flavored. Our Lenten journeys may raise a sweat, which comes with that yummy sea smell. Pregnant waiting for Holy Week death and new life – an oceanic womb. Our bodies still swim in that sea of Eden.
Wet Ash Wednesday is a day to repent; we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. Let us confess our failure to honor the womb of our creation, mother sea.
Remember that we are in good company on our Lenten pilgrimage by the sea. Our marine brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers long for us to walk (swim?) humbly with them and with our God.