This first day of the season of Lent is the day that sets the theme. Lent is not a time where we are called to give things up simply for the sake of giving things up and out of a fuzzy wish of self-denial. It is a time when we are asked to honestly examine our lives and discern what is keeping us from knowing and following God. And having made that discernment, we are invited to begin the process of shedding our impediments.
Ash Wednesday‚Äôs most evocative moment is when we come forward to the altar rail and have ashes placed on our foreheads. We hear the words ‚ÄúDust thou art, and to dust thou shall return.‚Äù It is one of the most brutally honest moments of the Church Year. We are dust, we are creatures and we did not make ourselves. We are mortals. We had a beginning and we shall have an end; both of which are in God‚Äôs hands. They are not in our hands, no matter how much we might like to try to convince ourselves otherwise.
Starting with that honest appraisal of who and what we are, we can begin our Lenten journey by looking with the same dispassionate honesty at the rest of our life. What am I? What am I becoming? Is this what I believe God would have me do? If it is, what shall I do to hasten the fulfillment of God‚Äôs will for me? If it isn‚Äôt, what must I do to get myself back on track?
Take some time this day to look with honesty at the whole of your present life. Start just by looking. Look hard though. Once you have seen, then you can begin the next steps of planning what to do.