But Lent is a journey, not a pass-fail test. Trust me, if it were at all possible to fail Lent, I would have long ago been expelled from this spiritual school. Fortunately, the goal here is not a perfect score at the end of 40 days. In fact, let's throw out the word "goal" and focus instead on practice -- spiritual practice.
I wonder if there's another way to observe this day and the season of Lent which it inaugurates by considering where those ashes come from. I don't mean their traditional origin in last year's Palm Sunday palm fronds that are burned to ashes and mixed with oil to create an adhesive mix, but a deeper origin.