Here we are again at Ash Wednesday as Lent begins the Christian 40-day journey to Easter. Some will give up chocolate, junk food, or alcohol as an expression of penitence. Others will take on a new prayer or meditation discipline for the period, and some will be well-intentioned, begin in good faith, but falter along the way - not unlike "New Year's Resolutions." Some, of course, won't give Lent any particular attention.
Some of us will receive ashes on our foreheads - which can be a stark and somber emblem of our individual and collective mortality - from dust we came and to dust we will return. It is also a graphic symbol of our faith commitment, our team logo, a temporary tattoo of our family crest, the sign of the Presence of Christ, the Light of the World.
Let's not make this Lent a dark and dreary trudge through the wilderness of gloom and doom. Life is a gift of God, a treasure, a miracle. While we must take the time to examine our sins and acknowledge the everyday idols that lead us astray, let us also do as Fr. Richard Rohr suggests - learn what our sins can teach us about ourselves. We go through much of life unconsciously and we can't get rid of something we don't know we have. Lent is a time to look closely and discover what we've been hiding in 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, 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. (by the way, repent actually means to have a change of heart, a new consciousness, and more importantly, to turn toward God)
~ Psalm 51:11-13
*Fr. Richard Rohr [1943- ] is a Franciscan priest, the inspirational author of more than 20 books of practical books on contemplative prayer, Christian mysticism, spirituality, the Perennial Tradition, etc., and is internationally recognized as an ecumenical teacher and speaker having shared presentations with Sr. Joan Chittister, The Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault, the Dali Lama, Pastor Rob Bell, and so many others. He is the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he resides. See http://www.cac.org for more information.