Ash Wednesday is a ritual that many of us in liturgical denominations know as a time of “repentance” and a reflection of how our life is limited here on Earth as we enter into the Lenten season. I recognize for many of us the word repentance holds a negative connotation and it has been used against many of us as a weapon. I’d like to focus less on repentance as a renouncing of our sins but rather a time of reflection of what has been and moving toward a time of embracing what can be. The tension and growth that happens within that space, a time where we can live more fully into what God desires for our lives.
The Bible is a beautiful interweaving of words that show nuances and symbolism and allows us to apply it across life experiences. As I sought to reflect on the story of ashes I found that while they are a symbol of mourning and death, they are also a symbol of the dust we are created from. Each particle intricately designed to create the person we are: our physical, emotional, and spiritual DNA.
Any time that I have experienced any amount of growth spiritually, emotionally, or physically: there has been some form of death, the pain of losing something that was once a part of my life. We have all been through situations and instances where we have been hurt or have hurt others in our lives. The pain we experience as we look forward and toward a more whole life, is a time of mourning and of death. Lent is the tension felt as we are experiencing a fuller life in which we can live in celebration for who we are and who we are created to be by God. A life where we can shower the compassion and grace God shares with us during this time of growth onto others who need it. A life where we are pushed to stand in solidarity with our siblings in Christ across the world. A time in which we can look towards the light of hope, adding new particles of dust to our DNA.
We acknowledge that Lent can be a time of shame and guilt for some, bringing forth how one feels they have failed or comparing oneself to others. We see you. Know we have a community and a gathering that will open their arms wide and pull you in with a desire to bring new life.
If you choose to engage with God as you are indulging in the things in your life that you truly enjoy. If you choose to give up something that you feel has been taking away from a life that could be. Or if you just don’t practice Lent. Let us join together in prayer and thanksgiving for a God who created us and loves us as we are.