The first real day of Lent. The first day of mindful sacrifice. The first day of remembering our mortality, that we are mere dust. The first day of wondering how God could consider this dust so important that he would choose to suffer humanity and a horrific death, just to save...dust.
I am not remembering this day with outward signs. I will not be having ashes put on my head or attending a service. Sometimes I miss that since the church tradition that I find community within is not of the liturgical variety. But I remember the day in my prayer. In my mediation.
Grace abounds for me in this season. I am not a believer that fasting or giving up chocolate is equivalent to sharing in the sufferings of Christ. I mean, really? At best that is arrogant and at its worst insulting. What I do believe in is considering grace.
As the priest makes the sign of the cross on your forehead he often quotes Genesis 3:19 which says "for dust you are and to dust you will return."
Really uplifting, isn't it?
I always hated that tradition-ashes on your forehead. Partly because it looked weird and partly because of the morbid scripture used. Now, I have a different take on it.
Lent is a physical season of fasting, of prayer, of repentance. We abstain and feel the absence of food and in that we are reminded of how empty we are without the bread of life. We pray, communally and privately, connecting with the Creator of this pile of dust. We turn away from our sins, physically, spiritually, emotionally, individually and as a community, turning toward our Redeemer with more mindfulness than other seasons perhaps.
I am mere dust. I swept the floor today, dust and dog hair and scraps of only heaven knows what. In the dustpan and right into the trash. I gave it no thought. But the Creator of this universe of dust, my Creator, he thinks of me. He provides me with all my needs. He shows me how to live well. He shares his life with me.
I don't give much up for Lent anymore because it gives me too much in return.