Ash Wednesday

“How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Who’s sin is covered!” —Psalm 32:1

Today is a day of ashes, a day to remember that we were dust and to dust we shall return.  In that, we consider the ends of our nature, the temporal nature of our desires. How does sin so easily entangle? How is it wound into all of us?

In the recognition of our ashenness, we can still find joy in this: Ash Wednesday marks a season of reflection on Christ's march to the cross, his death, burial, and resurrection.  In this march, through this march, on the far side of the march, he set everything right--us, earth, heaven, the whole shebang. In this, he took the ash of everything and turned it platinum.  So as we remember our ashenness, as we recognize the lusts of the flesh and do what we can to kill them, let's not forget: salvation is coming.

Can you hear it?

“O Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with Psalms.” –Psalm 95:1-2

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Beginnings: Ash Wednesday

"One cannot begin to face the real difficulties of the life of prayer and meditation unless one is first perfectly content to be a beginner and really experience himself as one who know little or nothing and has a desperate need to learn the bare rudiments."

Beginning Lent as a beginner takes a conscious effort.  I was raised on a steady diet of the Passion and resurrection, so I took little time to meditate in it deeply because I knew it so well.  Or so I thought.

Today as I contemplate my dusty beginning and my coming ashy end, I'm hoping to start this Lenten season with green belief.   I'm asking what it means to really pray and meditate through Lent, which means I'm asking what it means to really pray and meditate at all.

Consider starting this season at square 1?  Consider the readings as if they are fresh-baked?  Consider the Passion and resurrection with unreached ears?

Welcome to Ash Wednesday, 2012.  It's a good day to start from the dust.

"We do not want to be beginners.  But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners."

*All quotes taken from Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer.