I am not an extremely vain woman. At least I wouldn't like to think so. But, I can remember a long time ago when I really worried about my appearance. It wasn't that I expected to be beautiful or lovely. It was extremely important that I not look ridiculous and that people would not laugh at me.
This particular vanity was no more evident than in my feelings about Ash Wednesday. I always wanted to go and have ashes, even though it is not a holy day. But, once the priests started having lay assistants I noticed huge differences in the amount of ashes one might receive. Some of those inexperienced lay ministers laid the ashes on a little thick.
And while I came from dust and to dust I will return, I really didn't want to look that dusty, even just at Mass, before my time came. So I would watch and try to go to the minister who did the best ash placement. Usually that was the priest because they had the most experience and maybe a class in seminary where they learned how to put the ashes on correctly. At least they had a lot of practice.
I reflected on that this Lent. I have reached a new level of spirituality or perhaps (I hope) let go of some vanity, because I found myself laughing at my old self who cared about such things. This year I went to a lay minister who dropped ashes all down my nose and really marked my forehead well.