This Ash Wednesday, 2010, marks the very first year I have ever observed Lent.
I distinctly remember, prior to being a Christian, one particular Ash Wednesday. I was working in DC and I had gotten to work pretty early that day. Later, when people started to trickle in, one gentleman from my office got there and after our usual morning hello's I informed him that he had dirt on his forehead.
Fortunately for me his English wasn't that great so he smiled and walked off. But my other co-worker then informed me the man had attended mass that morning and that was ash on his head...not dirt.
I was still pretty lost (for years), but accepted it and moved on.
I tell this story not to be funny. But instead to relay just how clueless, up until recently, I have been to the practice of Lent. I contribute this largely in part to, though I was raised in the church, my denominational background, but also the individual church I grew up in. Lent, to my knowledge, was never discussed or taught.
In some ways I feel slighted. I feel I have missed out on years of walking closely with my Savior these 40 days leading up to the cross. The intimacy that is associated with spending that amount of time with any one, but especially Jesus as He prepared to die...I wish I had known it long before now. However, despite that, I know that now in my life, at this very moment, the observance of Lent settles perfectly into my walk of faith. I may have never done it before, but I think now is exactly when God would want me to start.
I go into this particular Lenten season, though new to this traditon, knowing that for me it will be less about what I am giving up (though I am giving up soda) and more about what I am adding to my life and that's Jesus. I go into it knowing that God has been preparing my heart for this for quite some time. I go into this, not because I expect to end my 40 days with a higher and deeper theological clarity, but because I long for God in my life to be clearer, to me and to others. Most importantly I am going into this praying for a changed heart...to be so deeply affected by my God's passion for me that He hung and died on a cross...that I AM CHANGED.
Change is such a bad word, isn't it? But as much as I can't stand change, even I know it needs to happen sometimes in order to reap the good that's in store.
Now is that time for me.
Along with giving up soda, I'm also committing to ADD some things to my life as well. During these 40 days I commit to two Lenten devotionals guiding me in this walk and also to fervent prayer for my own relationship to Jesus and those around me. I would say I commit to writing more about my experience along the way, but I'm not. Of course I will if called to, but for now, my personal detailings will remain mine.
I do, however, encourage you to join me in this. It doesn't matter if you've ever "done" Lent or not. Why not start now? It doesn't have to be this logistical, churchy, thing...It's just between you and your Almighty.
I'd love to start a dialog as well. I know I still have a tone of questions and would love to come alongside my sisters (and brothers if you're reading) in Christ and learn from one another. Let's band together in prayer and in discussion, no matter our different traditions. I know this would be a blessing to my heart, indeed!
May this time, for you, be one of healing and renewal. I pray your souls are enriched with the absolute depth of God's love. And may that love's spark in you be a shining light to all.
Blessings dear friends.