I took the boys to get ashes for the first time in their lives today. I decided that they were old enough to understand the symbolism and participate in the ritual marking the beginning of Lent. We went to a brief noontime prayer service at our parish led by our pastoral minister. I had prepared the children beforehand explaining to them what the ashes were and that someone would make the sign of the cross on their forehead and that they would have a dark smudge there after - an outward sign of their Christianity.
After the service, I took them to our local science museum which is featuring a special dinosaur exhibit right now. It was a special treat during David's vacation from school. I was a little self-conscious as we walked in this very public place with the outward signs of our Christianity plastered literally across our foreheads. Of course, I should not have felt that way at all. I should be proud of my Christianity, and people should be able to tell I am a Christian by the way that I treat others whether or not there is a visible sign on me.