Today is Ash Wednesday, a symbol in Christianity of the start of Lent, forty days and nights leading up to the death and resurrection of Christ. For Christians it is a day of fasting and abstaining, a day of preparing for what is to come, with Spring just around the corner.
Ashes are for many a sign of the past, of death and destruction, and in particularly the result of fire. One of the worlds smallest sporting trophies is in fact The Ashes. A tiny urn, just a few inches high, said to contain the ashes of a burnt set of cricket bails.
The Ashes are played between England and Australia every couple of years or so, and of course in recent months Australia itself has suffered devastating wild fires across much of its landmass. But even just a few weeks after their forests became ashes, new life, and new growth is emerging. And with that new growth comes new hope.
With any major traumatic event in our lives, from the ashes always comes new hope. In London, those traumatised by the loss of loved ones in the ashes of Grenfell Tower, are slowly rebuilding their lives. Their hope is that the Inquiry, court cases and government responses mean that such a tragic event never happens again.
So as Christians celebrate Ash Wednesday, remember that ash is as a symbol of new hope. Now is the time to remove the bad from winter and the past, and a time to start moving towards Spring, and new growth and into Easter. We may still be in cold, wet, windy February, but the birds are chirping, the snow drops and daffodils are blooming. The new hope of Spring is just around the corner.
Wipe away the ashes from your lives, and replace it with the hope of better things to come. Use this hope to plan ahead. Learn from the ashes of the past. Review those risk assessments, update those policies, start those spring cleans. Spring is just around the corner. Go into it renewed and refreshed.