A moment of contemplation for yourself or on behalf of others on everything from the life-altering to the mundane.

Prayer: A conversation with The Higher Other who lives within each of us. An invitation to vent, to re-think, to ask, and to rest.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Meditation Moments: Lent Begins, Don't Just Give Up! ~ Ash Wednesday, March 2, 2022

    The fronds from last year's Palm Sunday have been burned to ash. And while Mardi Gras, which literally means Fat Tuesday, or Pancake Tuesday, has not been the usual carnival of food and parades again this year, many of us still may have had a good filling of pancakes, or candy, or some other pre-Lenten treat. Yesterday was also Shrove Tuesday as we are soon to be shriven, that is, absolved of our misdeeds great and small, if we present ourselves for confession, repentance, and penance. And now, Lent.
         The word "Lent" comes from the old Anglo-Saxon language and essentially means "lengthen" as in the days lengthening in the Spring. Of course, in the Southern Hemisphere, the days are shortening so the perspective is a little different. However, we who are Christians from the Roman, Orthodox, or Anglican traditions all observe the same 40 days of Lent. It is to mirror the 40 days and nights Jesus spent alone in the wilderness, after his Baptism by John, being tempted by Satan, in preparation for the official start of his ministry that began when he returned.  
        Sundays are in Lent, rather than of Lent. A picky detail but if you've ever counted the days from Ash Wednesday to Easter....more than 40 days because Sundays aren't actually counted as they are in other liturgical seasons. 
        Even 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, Lent is a season to rediscover our relationship with God and renew our commitment to it. 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 palm ashes. 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.
        During these 40 days, some of us will enter into a period of dedicated fasting, prayer, and self-denial. Some will give up things such as chocolate, alcohol, or cigarettes, some will take on activities such as daily meditation or volunteer work. Some will give up and take on. Some will begin in earnest and maintain their discipline and others will fall away in distraction or be a bit haphazard. There's no right or wrong way to do Lent when you are intentional about wanting to be closer to God. Whatever your mode, with or without you, Lent begins...

             Create in me a clean heart, O God, and help me find my way back to You. While I would like to show my good intentions by grand repentant gestures and worthy pious activity, I have to be honest here as I know I'm not likely to stick with a full on heavy discipline for 40 whole days. So, for today, please help me clean my heart and restore my soul in other smaller ways such as with patience to give up arguing a point on Facebook and take on being mindful of my thoughts, emotions, and actions while driving and in the grocery store line. Dear Lord of all Peoples, on each day of this Holy Lent ~ and beyond ~ let me understand and live into the words You have given us through Jesus:

"Forgive us our sins AS we forgive those who sin against us."  

             Perhaps that could change us all for the better.  
For all this we pray. Amen.

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