Ash Wednesday

The Lenten Season is traditionally thought to be a time where we’re reminded of Jesus’ life and death. It’s a time of self-examination and repentance. In many traditions it’s a time when one thinks about what one can do without. This year, however, you’re being invited to begin your Lenten journey from a different place. It’s not that we’re going to toss tradition out the window, but rather enhance your experience of Lent by grounding it in a broader, more expansive understanding of faith.

Now, the best place to begin this enhanced journey is by reflecting on our unity with all that is, by remembering that each of us is part of an immense and continuous creation, a creation which entails the entire universe. Although we humans are a vital part of this creation, we are by no means the center. Yet we know that all too often we imagine and act as if we were the center—as if everything were here for us, for us to use for our own purposes, even to use up. And yet in our hearts we know that we live in and through a complex set of interconnected relationships, and that it’s our responsibility, as it has been the responsibility of each generation that preceded ours, to bequeath a healthy, fruitful, and beautiful world to all who shall follow.

Now, at this point you may be asking: “What does this understanding of connection and responsibility have to do with Lent?” Well, if we are open to allowing God to expose the places in our hearts that suffer from the illusion that we are separate and apart from creation and if we are willing to allow God to bring into the light those places where change is needed, then, I would contend, this is the real work of Lent. The real work of Lent is to renew our sense of connection, thus restoring our dignity and calling us back to ourselves, to a place where we acknowledge the invitation to choose life and our responsibility to act co-creatively with God.

And this journey of co-creativity begins today. Ash Wednesday is a day when we call all of our angers, hatred, and jealousies out from their dark corners. It’s a day when begin to acknowledge that these negative personal emotions affect more than just ourselves. You see, this is a season of healing. A healing that begins on the inside and expand outward. The ashes are not only a reminder of our need for transformation and healing, but they’re also a reminder of our connection with earth and how each of us can be instruments of healing to other and all of creation.

So, let the journey begin! Until next time, be safe, be well, be kind, and continue the good work of seeking justice and peace, healing and wholeness for all of creation. [i]

[i] The premise of this devotion and a portion of its content can be found in an article by Louise Rasmussen called The Star Within: An Alternative Ash Wednesday Ritual.  ( 2014

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