I got up around 5 this morning so I could run and still get to church at 7 am. I wish I had the same persistance for other tasks.
It was nice to have a homily that dealt with the contradiction of hearing a text about doing good deeds in secret (Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-21) and then going out into the world with ashes on our foreheads. The priest took the line that in this world public display isn't about bragging that we are more pious than someone else but being willing to be identified as a Christian in a world where that is laughed at. I'm not sure that fits here in South Carolina where most people do identify as Christians and go to church, they just don't go to churches with Ash Wednesday services with the imposition of ashes. If there is a social risk it is that ashes make us Episcopalians look like Catholics, against whom there is definitely prejudice.
I liked better what Ruth said, that it is interesting to walk around with a visible mark that says I am a sinner (or at least I am dust and to dust I shall return). It is one of the few situations in which it is socially acceptable to have the mark of our woundedness be visible.