With a lovely quiet Eucharist, in a church that looks its best when stripped of ornament. There will be a big service tonight, with music and sermon, but because today is my day off, I opted for the calm of 8.00 and it was beautiful.
20 of us gathered in the chancel, a family together in our penitence.
We heard Isaiah's reminder of a true fast and thrilled together at its promise of restoration.
Then we came to the ashing, a rite that for years left me unmoved, impatient. Now, though, I find it almost too much, to share that reminder of mortality, again and again...
This year, the ash seemed particularly powdery, so that if I used enough to make a distinct cross on the forehead, dust fell elsewhere - here caught on a glittering nose-stud, there lodging in deep wrinkes around an elderly mouth.
There was no escaping it, but that was as it should be. After all, the fact of our mortality is non-negotiable.
But only minutes later that same congregation were kneeling at the altar rail once more, receiving the food of eternity.