Try this instead of, or in addition to, ashes for Ash Wednesday. Our high school group tattooed ourselves with henna for Lent. You can get henna for tatoos in many places–mainly stores with “funky” stuff, but also at beauty shops. Each person had to be able to express aloud how their design reflected their relationship with God. I put crosses on my palms and feet to symbolize Jesus’ nails. One young man put a superman symbol on his stomach because Jesus is his superhero. And on it went. After we were all decorated, we formed a circle and laid hands on each person, praying that Jesus will use the tattoos to speak to the person during Lent.
Henna is a natural dye that is absorbed in the skin. It produces a rusty brown stain on the skin that last approximately 3 weeks, or until that layer of skin is worn off. I think this will become an Ash Wednesday tradition for our high school program. It is just crazy enough to be attractive to the kids, but not so crazy that parents object. And I know that Jesus has used the crosses on my palms to teach me a thing or two!