A smudge

Yesterday during staff meeting we studied Mark 14:66-72.  Peter is hanging around at night in the courtyard of the high priest, who is inside unfair-trialing Jesus, and while Jesus has been arrested under the cover of darkness, betrayed, abandoned by all his friends (his closest disciples have all run), and his prosecutors want to convict him of anything that will get him the death penalty, Peter is warming himself by the fire outside. A servant girl stares at him (it says) and for whatever reason, recognizes him. She accuses him of being one of them. A stranger points out he’s a Galilean, so he’s gotta know that other back-woods Nazarene inside… why else would he be here?

Some commentaries point out that they likely knew he was a Galilean from his accent. His very denials … maybe he used a euphemism only country-folk do “I have no idea what y’all’r talking about” … are what gave him away as belonging to “the Jesus crowd.”

As I walked back to work today after eating a small, late breakfast of chocolate croissant and coffee at a local french bakery, I passed a woman putting up a sign for her little jewelry store. I had noticed it a few times before. It’s quaint, just off Yonge Street, and has some beautiful stuff. I love all things artsy and beautiful and asked her if her store was open yet. She let me in, ten minutes early, turned on the lights and was very sweet and thoughtful. She was the artist of the rings.

I’ve been looking at rings lately to commemorate my five-year wedding anniversary. I got the idea from my grandmother, who had a ring for her thirtieth wedding anniversary made with the three diamonds on her engagement ring (they were all very small little round diamonds), plus 27 more. Grandpa was a romantic.

The rings in the shop were exquisite. The small diamonds she used were especially sparkly, and the designs were modern yet feminine and organic… one of the rings I tried on even fit perfectly. I was quite taken with it, and could imagine wearing it proudly.

R137(14KY) with diamonds

This picture doesn’t do it justice…

I left the store feeling somewhat confident that perhaps a custom ring would be more affordable than the eternity band (diamonds aaaaaalll around) I had tried on. I left her with my information to contact me with a quote for a  ring that was simpler (read: less diamonds). 

As I got outside I remembered I had ashes on my forehead.

Did she realize they were ashes? The store had great lighting on the jewelry, but maybe she didn’t notice my forehead. Did I ever take off my toque? Did my toque cover it? I wasn’t wearing make-up (I rarely do), did she just think I have REALLY uneven skintone?

My ashes gave me away. 

I was acting like I was a normal, everyday rich Torontonian. I carried myself as though I had oodles of money in the bank and was willing to spend it on myself. 

But then I have a symbol on my forehead… that tells a different story.


My denial … of being part of “the Jesus crowd” that is supposed to live differently … hasn’t yet caused me to break down and weep, like Peter did, when he realized he had denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed twice. 

But I hold this beautiful, sparkly, status symbol in my mind and think… how do I want to be known? For loving others, or loving myself? 


Thus, Lent. The time for penitence. Because I am a magpie, a raccoon, and am tempted to selfishness by sparkly things…