So, I have about half a dozen posts that I start and never get around to editing or finishing b/c, well, life happens...like school projects, snow-days, play dates, orders to fill, doctor appointments, head-lice (yes, SO not kidding), and then the bags and bags of linens to wash b/c of that!! lol, what a week. Anyhow, here's hoping that I get this one finished and posted...I have a few minutes while the 103rd load of laundry is being washed on hot...thought I'd take this time to share...
On Wednesday, we attended the ash Wednesday service at our church. I had never participated in this tradition, growing up, so this is a bit of a new thing for me...I must say, I loved it. I think the symbolism is amazing...and a sweet little thing that happened during the service was so touching to me.
Lent= 40 Days of surfacing/purging the crap in our lives.
The word lent comes from and old German word that means spring.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run w/perseverance the race marked out for us." Hebrews 12:1 NIV
I was a diver well over ten years ago and I remember the swimmers on our team wearing "drag" (layers and layers of suits, plus NOT shaving) for practice and early races....in Hebrews 12:1 it talks of the runners removing "drag": anything that slowed them down...
we need to see our lives in the same way and take an inventory of the drag in our lives...remove those things that slow us down and in turn then keep us focused on the wrong things. We can become so wrapped up in the little things that happen w/day-to-day life (like school projects, snow-days, play dates, orders to fill, doctor appointments, head-lice, and linens to wash) that we often forget what's really important...we are called to fix our eyes on Jesus and to imitate Him, to love others as ourselves...but, how can we do that when we are so consumed with everyday life? I think this is a really good tactic on the devil's part to overwhelm us with so much busyness that we become wrapped up in it just by default. How often have you become so consumed with something that's happening in your life at the moment?? I know it's a daily thing for me.
Linda Dillow, in her book, Calm my Anxious Heart, says that it's natural to be consumed with the day to day happenings in our lives that cause us to worry, however we should see them as an opportunity to pray specifically.
Lent is a season of making room for God in our lives. From what I've gathered (by observing all of my catholic friends growing up) people give something up for the Lenten season, they voluntarily choose something of importance in their lives (be it chocolate, coffee, TV, fast food etc) to "clear an area for God to come in and work." By giving something up for this 40 day period, we are able to re shift our focus and pay attention to our Lord...and the work that He's doing.
40 comes from the flood- a "washing" (flooding) of the impurities in our lives. It also represents Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness to prepare himself.
ash symbolizes sorrow and repentance. it represents the dust from which we came and the dust from which we will go.
During the service the sanctuary had stations for everyone to participate in, one of them had a huge black piece of fabric draped across the stage with black markers. We were to write the things that are entangling us, particular sins that we need forgiveness for, on the black fabric with the black markers...after writing, your words disappear because they are black....
Tate and I went up to the fabric and I explained the activity to him and what it represented, he grabbed a marker and started writing then yelled out for everyone around us to hear, "Mom, how do you spell hitting?" and "I know how to spell punch because it rhymes with lunch," then he began proudly writing/purging of his struggles. It's funny, at first I shushed him, showing him that others were praying and quietly focusing on this activity...then I looked around, and then down at myself and how I was covering what I was writing, in shame...here, this little guy just gave it all to God. He laid it there at the cross...simple as that..."he struggles with hitting and punching, he's sorry, help him to change, Lord." Sometimes I wonder if pride is one of the things that entangles me, that keeps me from clearing room for God. How precious to be like a child, humble and completely himself before the Lord and others.
I think one of the reasons I really like adding ash Wednesday to our traditions is because it's more than three days of remembering our Lord's death, it's a season or remembering and setting aside time to re-shift our focus. It's a practice that I highly recommend.