March 9, 2011 – Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday… Lent begins.

Our readings today remind us that God seeks our hearts, God is always seeking our return. Like all relationships, our relationship with God is dynamic and calls for our active participation, our response. God is always calling to us.

Lent is an invitation to enter more deeply into relationship with God as we strip away some of the things that can come between us. It doesn’t really matter what you give up, it matters that you are seeking God via the practice.

I kind of stink at the giving up thing. One year I gave up TV, this had to be maybe… 1994 or 1995?  Somewhere around then. At the time my TV and cable were hooked up behind a giant wall unit and it was no small task to get back there to unhook and unplug it all. As a result, it was also not easy to reconnect it.

At the time I struggled at first and then something happened… a door opened, I dropped into some place deeper. It may have been my best Lent ever in terms of spaciousness, quiet and transformation.

In any event, most Lents have found me floundering and struggling to keep my promises. Which is pretty much like all of my life, except that during Lent it seems underscored.

Is it like that for you too?

In recent years, something has changed for me. As someone who lived alone for most of my adult life, I had the seeming luxury of no one seeing (except for God!) what I was up to. Now I am married and have a step-daughter and she became a Roman Catholic on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday in 2009 at the age of 12.

As a result, Lent has changed for me. No longer can I quietly slip and ignore it. It is not that she might “see” me slip up, it is that I know how hard she is trying and I feel a different kind of accountability around the whole thing.

Jesus calls us to communal life and to find him through one another.

I’m grateful that my step-daughter has this impact upon me, but I’d love to open that gate a little wider so that I feel more connected to others and more open.

On a related note, I would like to recommend a great Lenten website from Ignatian Spirituality. Each Wednesday, starting today, visit The Lunchtime Examen. Each week, author Jim Manney invites us into this Ignatian prayer practice to explore our consciences. 

I also highly recommend Jim’s fine book entitled, The Prayer That Changes Everything, from Loyola Press. This is a great book to get for Lent, for anytime. It makes the Examen practice clear and accessible for everyone.

Have a good Lent. Please continue to join us for reflections here and if you want to write one, please do let me know!

4 thoughts on “March 9, 2011 – Ash Wednesday

  1. I love your posts. As well as visiting Busted Halo, I'll bookmark the Lunchtime Examen, too. I think I've given up on the giving up. Not that I don't find it valuable. It's just that I'm not sure what I think of ultimately has a deeper meaner. I'm trying to be more charitable, literally and figuratively. I got the kids involved, doing chores for an allowance that they will donate to my in-law's food pantry.


  2. Fran, my dear, dear sister, you tap into the Lent anxiety so beautifully. I started yesterday morning with a cold commitment to what I was giving up. It was unlike earlier journeys when I felt an almost palpable drawing of God's Spirit to let something go. This year, I had the odd sense that I would be going through motions, conforming to convention rather than obeying principle. And I prayed for guidance.Last night, in her Ash Wednesday comments, our pastor said something that landed deep in my heart: "Fast if you must, but realize Lent isn't about what you decide to do or not do in advance. It's what the journey takes from you as you go. As you travel, you'll be challenged to sacrifice things you must lose–things you may not recognize as stumbling blocks right now, things you'll need to surrender to lighten your load."And so I'm trying something new this year–a sort of progressive, evolutionary fast that calls me out of myself as I go. I imagine the Church ancestors might sneer at the approach as undisciplined and illusory, but it seems right somehow.Finally, as always, it's my privilege to walk this road with you. I'm so grateful for all you mean to me and my Christian experience.Much love,Tim


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