Lent begins again, so quickly! Seems like we just celebrated Christmas, with all the joy and light, and are now abruptly throwing that off for something much more somber. At time of atonement, soul-searching, and personal, spiritual cleansing.
But do we truly need to forget Christmas? Do we have to proceed into this Lent with heavy hearts and eyes and ears closed to more uplifting thoughts and actions?
Could it be that there is some joy in the soul-searching? Something positive in our atonement?
For me, Ash Wednesday is the herald of a season that I enter into eagerly, with hope and anticipation. It is a time of turning back to God, of taking more moments and long stretches of hours to examine my relationship with Our Lord and ways to make it ever stronger, ever present in my daily life. This particular year, a Jubilee Year with a focus on mercy, is also an invitation to improve the ways I interact with others, help others, and communicate with others. This is wonderful, not at all somber and heavy-hearted. More time with God! More time trying to improve as a person! What a gift!
So, although the ashes might make a very dark smudge at the center of my forehead, they also feather outward and dust downward, a reminder that this is a holy time and also a hopeful time, a blessed gift and an opportunity.
Joy and peace,