Change, Faith, Ministry, Seasons

Ashes to Ashes {Thoughts on Ash Wednesday}

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Today is Ash Wednesday. It’s kind of hard to get in the mood when the sun is finally shining {at least a little bit} and the temps are coming up to a reasonable briskness. Most of us are full from the abundant food last night and have beads scattered across the dresser, and, I wonder, do we actually know what we are getting ourselves into. This Lent thing. A call to recognize our own mortality, and a time of confession to the One who gave us life. These are dark days till we reach the sunrise of Easter.

And all I want to do is bask in the sunshine and praise God for a beautiful day. 

This is how I remember Ash Wednesday as a kid: Dad, and his pastor friends, would pull out their tupperware containers of ashes and mark each congregants for head with a cross. Swish, swish. “Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust” {which always made me think of “Ring around the Rosey”}. I remember being jealous of the Episcopal and Catholic kids, because they already had theirs done upon arriving to school. Like a badge of honer. I never quite understood what Lent was, but I knew I didn’t like it. Giving up something I loved for 40 days felt like a lifetime. The Easter bunny sure wasn’t asking this of me.

All I wanted to do was bask in the sunshine…of Easter. 

It wasn’t until a few years ago that Lent isn’t about giving something up. It’s about reliance and focus on God, and an awareness that my life is not my own.  This completely changed my viewpoint. Rather than focusing on what to remove from my diet or daily life, I started the habit of giving up time to do something that made me focus on God more.

Acts that are, in all honesty, basking in God’s astounding love and praising God for being God.

This year, I’ve decided to focus on wholeness. So often I think if I read the scriptures and pray, and love people, it feels like enough. I wonder what it would mean to treat my body as a temple, and to wholly commit my focus to God during this time of Lent. So this year, my hope is to focus on

Physical Prayer, Meditation, and Awareness 

Since the accident, I have fallen in love with yoga. The awareness of my body and realization of where my mind consistently focuses has brought me to a new place of gratitude. When I first started meditating, with mostly a single pose, I found myself being drawn to praise and worship. Meditating on scripture has become something new, even when I’m in a class with a bunch of different people. This book…

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…has been extremely helpful in using yoga in my time with God. For Lent, I want to dive in a bit more, centering my time on Christ’s ministry, prayer, and the life I’ve been given. To help me focus, I’ve been listening to:

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They make the most beautiful albums! They’ve really helped my meditation time and I’m really looking forward to spending more time listening to this one!

While I was studying prayer last year, I spent quite a bit of time on material from Iona. A project of there’s that I have been desiring to do is a set of prayer beads.  I am visual, physical, experiential learner. Having something tangible to hold or focus on helps me to focus and get the most out of my experiences. This week, I am going to make a set of prayer beads for myself and use them during this Lent period.

My prayers, meditations, and the scripture plan I will be following for Lent will mostly come from the Revised Common Lectionary and Celtic Daily Prayer.

Another piece of this is awareness. The accident last year could have easily taken my life. That is something I am aware of daily. I can understand why people may be uncomfortable with Ash Wednesday, because coming to grips with your own mortality is difficult and overwhelming. No one likes to dwell of loss. As I have dwelled, I have begun to realize the elements of my life that don’t show gratitude or glory to God. As I touched on before, my focus is one of these things. I let myself get distracted and leave things unfinished. Another is my body; what I eat, how I think about myself, what I do to keep my body healthy. The accident put quite a bit of weight back on my body, and I can’t workout the same way anymore because of my injuries. All of this has taken a toll on my self-confidence and how I view my body, and none of these things have brought glory to God nor have been actions of gratitude for my life.

So for Lent, along with prayer/yoga/focus, I’m going to add active awareness. Awareness of how my body feels, awareness of what I need to do to get it back in shape, awareness of what goes in my body, and an awareness of how I treat and think about my body.

In all these areas, the things I’ve decided to add, or take away, are ones that I hope to continue with past the Lenten season.

One life with another chance. I so deeply desire for my whole self to bring glory to God and to serve God fully.

So let’s bask in this intimate time and let God illumine our lives as we dwell, confess, and fast.

For in all of this, we are praising God.

Easter is coming. Who knows what amazing revelations the Spirit will give us about our amazing God during this intentional time.

Truly,

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How are you worshiping God during this season of Lent?

2 thoughts on “Ashes to Ashes {Thoughts on Ash Wednesday}

  1. I loved reading your post about Lent when you were a child. Lent is talked about in our church, but we don’t do the rituals of it. It is a true reflection of Jesus and his suffering, his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection. Easter is such a wonderful time of the year and I always see it as a wonderful time to learn to forgive. Something Easter is all about. Thanks for sharing. http://mylifeabundant.com/2014/03/09/have-you-fallen-from-grace/

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