Today was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. I’ve been a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) all my life except for a brief time when I tried to be a Baptist. (It didn’t work, but that’s a story for another time.) When I was a child, Disciples didn’t pay attention to Ash Wednesday, but in recent years many Disciples churches have incorporated Ash Wednesday services into the life of the church. It’s a time in which we acknowledge our sinfulness, honestly examine our shortcomings and failures, and ask God to give us clean hearts. I have come to appreciate this day.
In my church the Ash Wednesday service includes hymns, prayer, and scripture reading, followed by the imposition of ashes and participation in communion. And although it’s a somber service, it also has elements of forgiveness and grace, for which I am grateful.
I’m trying to make two changes during Lent this year. The first one is silly, but I’m writing it down so that I will take it seriously. Are you ready for this? Okay, I’m giving up Spider Solitaire for Lent. I hope I’ll be able to give it up forever. It’s a seriously addictive game, and I have a seriously addictive personality, so I have wasted hours and hours playing it. I tend to play it whenever I come to a tough spot in my writing. I’ve decided I’d be better off plowing on through the writing. Or if I’m totally stuck with the writing, I’ll use that break time to load the dishwasher or dust or do something worthwhile.
The other change is serious and personal, and I don’t feel like sharing it with the entire internet. So I’ll just say that with the beginning of Lent, I have begun the struggle. If you’re a praying person, I’d appreciate a few prayers on my behalf, because this is going to be HARD.
Here’s a quote that I like, and one that I will look back on while traveling through Lent. It’s called “Dust that Dreams of Glory” and is by Michael Mayne in PRAY, LOVE, REMEMBER.
Ash Wednesday is a day for honesty, a realistic assessment of the human heart. By tradition it is a day when we assert (unfashionably but rightly) the sinfulness of our nature, and ask God to “create and make in us new and contrite hearts,” and many kneel to have ash placed on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. But even in the stringent days of Lent there is a complementary truth which also needs affirming. We may be dust, but we are dust that is full of mystery and that dreams of glory; dust (we sense) that is to be changed, transfigured, into God’s likeness.
Now, just to show you that I’m not a pious religious type, I’m inserting a bit of humor about Ash Wednesday. Enjoy!