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Priest’s Palette
by Carl Palmer
          Dad makes the mistake of mentioning in front of us kids that he does not care for Ash Wednesday. He’s looking in the mirror over the sun visor of our nine passenger 1959 Ford station wagon, which we really need with six children in the family. His after church reflection shows the black ashen cross on his forehead, not that different from the one each of us is wearing, except his is more noticeable because of his bald head.
“That priest makes a bigger cross every year. I think he does it on purpose,” he gripes.
Mom laughs, looks at us and says, “It’s because he’s also an artist and you have a big canvas.”
We each chime in with…
“No wonder, look at how much face you have, Dad.”
“He really could have made it bigger, there’s still a lot more room.”
“Maybe next year he’ll use blue to match your tie.”
“I think you should keep it, Dad. It makes you look ten years younger.”
          Looking at each of us before starting the drive home, “Is there anything else or should I just drive straight home without stopping for ice cream?”
That gets us quiet about that, at least until the kick off to Lent the next year, and every year since.
Last night at Ash Wednesday service kneeling in our pew after receiving our ashen crosses my wife understands my silly smile, and the tears in my eyes.

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