“… And to Dust You Shall Return”: An Ash Wednesday Reflection

This post is a few weeks late, but I am posting it anyway! Have a blessed Lent, everyone! 

Every year for as long as I can remember, I have always gone to mass on Ash Wednesday and heard the words,”Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” as a priest draws a cross of ashes onto my forehead.

In the past, I’ve never had any problems with wearing my ashes during the school day, but that was because I attended Catholic school since Pre-K, so everyone got them during the all-school mass on Ash Wednesday. However, this year was different. I’m no longer at a Catholic school where everyone gets ashes on their forehead on the first day of the Lenten season.  In the past, my classmates and I would walk to class and try to figure out what shape our ashes took on. (They almost never looked like a cross. They always looked like a blob.) My friends and I would joke around and say “On Wednesdays we wear ashes!” Everyone at school would have ashes on their foreheads, so there was no judgment or questions about what that smudge was on our heads. However this year, Ash Wednesday was a different experience for me.

This year, I’m at a public university where some of my peers may have never seen someone walking around with a dark smudge on their forehead. I ended up going to the local Catholic church for mass on Ash Wednesday due to time conflicts, and I’m convinced that the priests at the church practiced their ash cross-making technique the day before because everyone’s ashes looked like a cross. As I walked back to campus with a big cross made of ashes on my forehead, I definitely got some weird looks. No one questioned me about it, but as I walked down Campus Walk to meet my roommate for next year, Rosie, for lunch and then into class at 2:00, I definitely noticed their confused facial expressions.

Did I really care about the weird looks I got? Nope. The cross on my forehead showed the UMW community that I am a Christian and I’m not afraid of being judged for it.

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Sesame Street & Autism: A New Character’s Introduction and What it Means to Me

When you read the title of this post, you probably thought to yourself, “What is a college girl doing blogging about Sesame Street?” but if you know me, you would probably know that the introduction of Sesame Street’s newest Muppet to the TV series has brought me so many tears of joy over the past 24 hours.

If you do not know what I’m talking about, then it’s obvious that you aren’t a friend of mine on Facebook, or you did not watch Sunday night’s 60 Minutes on CBS. Back in 2015, Sesame Workshop, the organization behind Sesame Street, announced that a new character, a four-year- old named Julia who has Autism, would be joining Elmo and friends in a set of books and digital content. When this news broke, I was thrilled! I was halfway through my senior year of high school and I had made up my mind that I wanted to be a Special Education teacher.

Fast forward to last night (March 19): I am on Facebook when a message from my dad comes up. It read, “I watched this tonight. It was powerful.” and included a link to the 60 Minutes segment. I clicked on the link to start watching and was in tears before Lesley Stahl’s introduction was over. I responded to my dad’s message with, “I’ve only watched the intro and I’m already crying.” I’m not really sure how or if I can explain why I was in tears so quickly. I think it is the fact that a program like Sesame Street which teaches younger children their ABC’s and 123’s will be teaching children that kids who have Autism want to play and be our friends. It will teach children that their peers who have Autism may take a little bit longer to understand a question or may appear to be ignoring them, so they need to be patient, friendly, and compassionate.

By the end of the segment, I will admit that I was grinning from ear to ear, even with tears in my eyes. Sesame Street’s introduction of Julia in her episode debut at the beginning of April will bring what I hope to be a wave of understanding, acceptance, and inclusion from this generation of Sesame Street watchers.

Is it Winter or Spring? Is it “S’Winter”?

In an episode of the Disney Channel show, Phineas and Ferb, the brothers conducted an experiment/science project where they built a machine that made snow in the middle of July. They called the event “S’Winter”. I think “S’Winter” is the appropriate term for whatever this weather pattern is here in Virginia! The weather in Virginia is a very strange phenomena, to say the least. In the span of one week, it could be sunny and 75 on Monday, windy and raining on Wednesday, and a severe winter storm alert could be in effect by Friday morning. I’ve lived in Northern Virginia my entire life, so I’m used to the wacky weather, especially in the late fall/winter seasons.

Today, all classes at UMW were canceled. Why? There’s snow and slush on the ground! Okay, so there isn’t nearly enough white stuff on the ground like the weathermen claimed there would be (Where’s my 3-6 inches of heavy snow, NBC4??) but with temperatures dropping, extra precautions had to be taken with the potential for sheets of ice appearing on Campus Walk. You certainly don’t hear me complaining!

Because I haven’t posted very much recently, I pulled on my rain boots and winter coat and grabbed my camera to photograph some of the ice and snow around campus. Hope you enjoy the photos!

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