Ashes available on campus as Lent offers ‘blank page’ for spiritual growth

Ash Wednesday provides a chance for Christians to grow closer to God during the season of Lent while preparing their hearts for Easter. Camie Jobe | Photographer

By Piper Rutherford | Staff Writer

In addition to the hubbub of Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14 marks Ash Wednesday — the beginning of the 40-day season of Lent. In recognition, Elliston Chapel and the Bobo Spiritual Life Center will be giving out ashes from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with complete services in Elliston Chapel at 8:30 a.m. and noon.

Dr. Charles Ramsey, director for campus ministries and church connections, said ashes are a public declaration of the cross on one’s forehead. However, they go beyond this visual reminder and ask followers to reflect on the state of their faith.

“Let us not miss this chance to determine what we can do to draw nearer to God,” Ramsey said. “Even in the busyness of our lives, we can find ways to integrate faith in how we live each and every day.”

For instance, Ramsey said he sees many college students choosing to give up a bad habit or addiction, such as phone use, during the time of reverence.

“When I was in college at Baylor, we only had rotary phones and would write love notes on paper, so I now hear a lot of students coming to me and saying they are going to choose a day during the week to go phone-free,” Ramsey said. “This digital fast then allows them to be more present in other areas of their life or find more times to get quiet and intimate with God.”

Matthew Aughtry, assistant director for chapel and ministry in the arts, said while he was growing up as a Southern Baptist in the early 2000s, he was instructed to give up a good or joyful aspect of his life during Lent.

“I am a filmmaker, so as a kid during Lent, I stopped going to the movie theater or shooting films,” Aughtry said. “However, as I have gotten older, I feel the exhaustion of picking something good in my life to get rid of, which does not make me any happier or closer to God and, I think, is too performative.”

Instead, Aughtry said he now practices what he preaches to his students.

“What I believe is that Lent goes both ways, meaning that while we are washing our canvas clean, we are also simultaneously asking God what he wants us to paint over the next 40 days,” Aughtry said. “With this blank page, for example, I put this into my own practice by fasting from food on Fridays and then using the money I would have spent on a meal that day to give back to my community.”