The Cyclops is that strange monster of Greek mythology with one big eye in the middle of its forehead. We pretend to ignore the truth that, for 325 days of each year, we are all Cyclopes because there is ONE GREAT BIG “I” right in the middle of our heads!
If we are skeptical about this assertion, we might watch our words for one day, from morning to night. What’s the first thing we think about each morning?
“What am I going to do today? How will I do it? What will happen to me today? How will I feel today?” I, I, I. And all day long, what do we say to people? We say things like, “I think this” and “I think that” and “I agree” and “I disagree” and “I like this” and “I don’t like that” and “I just want to say…” I, I, I.
And what’s the last thing that we think about at night?
“I wish that so-and-so would stop doing thousand- such to me” and “I really did a good job today” and “I wonder what I’ll do tomorrow.”
The problem with seeing with one eye is that we’re half blind. Everything looks flat and two-dimensional because with only one eye, we have no depth-perception. Consequently, we go wrong in assessing people.
In Greek mythology, the Cyclops was killed when Odysseus and four of his men took a spare staff of the Cyclops, hardened its tip in the fire and used that to destroy the monster’s one big eye. It is precisely this that we must do on Ash Wednesday.
With two strokes of his thumb smeared with ash on our forehead, the priest will cross that “I” out of our head. By this sacramental ritual we are asked to take that “I” at the front of our mind and cross it out by “self-denial” and “self- mortification.” Doing so will help us to see the beautiful creatures of God all around us and replace “I” with “You.