And so Lent beings. With the imposition of ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday, we are reminded of our fragility, of our limitations, and our mortality. The imposition of ashes on the forehead, with the ancient confession, “Remember you are made of dust, and to dust you shall return,” means different things to different people. For some, we get reminders of our fragility all too often. Particularly those who suffer with chronic health issues. For others, we want to assume we are invincible or indestructible, and would rather not be reminded of our mortality, thank you very much.
How does it strike you? Is it depressing? Humbling? Helpful? Does it confuse you—how is getting your forehead smudged with ashes supposed to draw you closer to Jesus?
Or are you reading this in some bewilderment, thinking—what on earth is Rev. Mark talking about?
Wherever you are, I welcome you into this strange season called Lent. As the days grow longer, and we get closer to Easter, I hope that you will find something to do as an act of mindfulness. Some like to give something up, avoid sweets or chocolate, or perhaps give up Facebook. Others like to take on a particular task, such as service projects or reaching out to friends more often. This year, I’m trying something that’s going to be really hard for me, and I’m going to try giving up screens after 8:00 p.m. No more TV, computer, or smartphone after 8:00. Or maybe 9:00. We’ll see how it goes. Exceptions include phone calls, texts from church members, and setting my alarm at night. (It’s also a very safe bet that I’m looking forward to having Sundays “off” from this!)
At church we’re going to have a couple of programs to help us find our way through the season. We will have weekday meditation sessions, Wednesdays at 12:00 noon, in the Sanctuary, for 20-30 minutes. We’ll do some chanting, some unison prayers, listen to something meaningful, and have a period of silence. You can come and just listen, or participate as much as feels right for you.
We’re also reading Walter Wink’s The Powers That Be, a book about engaging with powers and principalities from a spiritual standpoint. I think you will find some of it inspiring, some of it challenging, but I look forward to the conversation with you. Our seminarian, Anthony Nuccio, will be helping me with those conversations. This will be on Wednesday evenings, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Wherever you find yourself in this, I wish you a Lenten season that is meaningful, thought provoking, and engaging for you spiritually.
See you in church!