Posts Tagged 'Ash Wednesday'

Lent, Back so Soon?*

Lent is not as much fun as Advent. In fact, “fun” and “lent” are rarely used in the same sentence. Lent, if you observe it, is usually stretching. In a good way you might say, like doing spiritual push ups. I don’t like doing push ups of any sort, but I do respect Lent.

Lent seemed simpler back then.  Like about every other kid in my parochial school, I gave up candy and that was it.  Since we didn’t have much access to candy anyway, it wasn’t a big sacrifice. I almost liked giving up candy, it seemed like a soft way to holiness and being holy was certainly a high held value in my small circle.

Then, when I felt I was too enlightened for all that religiosity, Lent was once again easy… to throw in with the Church towel. I didn’t need it and it didn’t need me to participate so we went our separate ways.  No one I knew “did Lent.”

We got back together, me and Jesus. He didn’t say anything about Lent in the Book but I still want to have a meet-up with it. Guess that will be tomorrow on Ash Wednesday.

By the way, Lent is making a come-back.  It doesn’t seem so easy anymore.  One friend spoke of her intention to secretly do something nice for someone everyday of Lent.  Easy for a few days but maybe not 40.

Facebook will incur a few drop-outs for Lent. Already a stream of friends showed up on the loop to say goodbye for 40 days. That wouldn’t be easy for me. Neither would foregoing fiction, bread, wine, or chocolate, some of my previous give-ups.  Still not sure for this year.

Maybe I will do an add-on instead like my “be nice” friend.  Instead of giving up something, add something else. Last year I wrote one letter a day during Lent.  I like writing letters though, so should probably add something else. Oops, I don’t like “shoulds.”

The “give-up” discomfort, hardly deprivation, keeps me focused.  In spite of what I want in the moment, I want something else more in the end. Hard to define, but it always shows up by Easter and it definitely feels holy.

So tomorrow evening, I will walk into my church and offer my forehead and my heart and await the adventure this year.  I will give-up and He will add-on.

And you?

Hope for the best,


Got kids? Lent for Kids: Five Ideas (and more) to Try

  • Originally published in a previous Lent.



Ashes to Ashes: A Journey of Faith

stained glassIt has been a long time since I checked Catholic on any form that inquired about my religious preferences.

Like many of us from the 60’s, I was quick to leave behind all the liturgical vestiges of faith practices, spent some time in the barren desert of vague beliefs, and re-emerged recklessly following Jesus and clearly Protestant.

Except on Ash Wednesday.

Like visiting a beloved hometown that didn’t seem so beloved in one’s youth, I made my annual two-block early morning trek to the Catholic church on the corner and lined up to get ashes. The words to the liturgy came out of my mouth flawlessly like being able to still find your way in your old neighborhood.

Instead of an intruder, I felt like I was visiting relatives, not my immediate family but clearly part of my heritage that I don’t see often but hold very dear.

In the early evening I carefully wiped off my forehead to prepare the space for a new splat of ashes, at my home church with my own faith community. Did I need to get ashes twice to get the full benefit of the day?  No, but once a year I choose a visible reminder that my past informs my present.

Worshiping with my new ashes and old friends, I noticed the Stations of the Cross fanning the room just like at the morning service.  For a brief moment, I glimpsed not just my personal legacy of ashes to ashes but the Communion of Saints who have gathered for centuries to offer our foreheads as a sign of  rendering our hearts.

I am honored and humbled to be in such good company.

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