Create in me a clean heart, O God
and renew a right spirit within me
says Psalm 51 [v11] and help me to find my way back to You. While I always have sincere ideas of grand repentant gestures and pious activity, You and I know I'm not likely to stick with an overly difficult or inconvenient discipline despite my best intentions. But please, help with the everyday moments that draw me away from You. Instead of planning what to give up, guide me toward realizing what I can take on. Grant me the consciousness and conscience to review my path of this last year. Help me to restore my soul in smaller, yet more meaningful ways such as being mindful of my thoughts, emotions, and actions while driving; being more patient in the grocery store or bank line; having the humility to step back from instant judgment of others to see what is within me; and mostly, Lord of all Peoples, on each day of this Holy Lent, and every day thereafter, let me understand the reality of and live into the words You have given us:
Forgive me my sins AS I forgive those who sin against me.
For all this I pray. Amen.
Lent isn’t meant as a dark and dreary trudge through the wilderness of gloom and doom. Life is a gift of God, a treasure, a miracle. Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness testing himself and preparing for his ministry. We in the west are so very busy that everything has to be on the calendar of our phones so we know the when, where, and what of life. How about programming 40 minutes of time once a week to pause, examine our sins - faults - and acknowledge the everyday idols that constantly lead us astray. As Fr. Richard Rohr suggests, let us take this time to learn what our sins can teach us about ourselves and, how to improve us.
We go through so much of life unconsciously and we can't get rid of something we don't know, or don't want to know, that we have. We can't improve ourselves if we don't fully know who we are. Lent is a time to look closely and discover what we've been hiding in the basement of our souls. Just like Spring cleaning - or Fall if you're in the southern hemisphere - it's time to awaken to the best of ourselves, re-discover what it means to commit our lives to Christ, keep the good stuff and throw the sin out with the trash. Let us repent with eagerness, with attention and intention, let us turn toward the Light and thrive.
P.S. Lent isn't just for certain church-goers, or even just Christians. If you are not a church-goer, or in a denomination that experiences Lent, for someone who has faith, or wants to have faith, or whose faith has been shaken or is shaky, or even lost, Lent is a season to rediscover ourselves and our relationship with God, and to establish or renew our commitment. It's not about giving up chocolate or cigarettes, it is about changing heart and mind upon which some over-indulgences, unhealthy habits, and even some serious life patterns can be identified and remedies discovered. It is a time for reflection of our past actions, our genuine intentions, and the repair of our souls. Some of us will be marked on our foreheads this day with the sign of the cross in the burnt remainder of palm fronds, the symbol of the great triumph of Palm Sunday now reduced to ash. This is an outward sign of and inward recognition of our human mortality. Christian or not, we all know the expression Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust. No matter how high one reaches in life, or how low, we all return to dust.
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