The Christian tradition gives us powerful symbols with which to enter into the Lenten season of penance and reflection on sin and death. This year, an ancient symbol saw its significance magnified all the more on a tragic Ash Wednesday. The news media on Feb. 14 carried numerous images of distraught parents outside a school in Parkland, Fla., many with ashes still on their foreheads, as they waited to hear if their children were alive or dead after yet another mass shooting.
The images could have come straight from Scripture: parents marked by signs of penitence and sorrow, lamenting the suffering of their children, anxious for good news and fearing the worst. As we move through the final weeks of Lent and await the coming of Easter, their suffering is a poignant reminder to the rest of us of our need for hope and for resurrection into new life. And the courageous witness of the student-survivors in their fight for gun safety is a reminder of the need for action in this life.