Happy Ash Wednesday, ya’ll! Today kicks off the beginning of Lent, a time that many Christians spend on reflection, prayer, and reconciliation. It is a time devoted to growing closer to God and to focusing on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Lent tends to be a very tender time for me. It can be rather overwhelming to try to determine what to give up during Lent and what to take on; to evaluate whether I’m doing too much or too little; to check up on my spiritual health. Sometimes I look at where I’ve been spiritually throughout the year and realize just how ridiculously far I have to go. It can be daunting and discouraging, especially since I feel like the last few months have been extraordinarily difficult.
However, the beautiful thing about Lent is that beneath all of the painful stretching and pulling we put our souls through there is almost certainly growth. If we genuinely pursue the spirit of Christ in an earnest desire to be reconciled to Him, He will meet us where we are.
My husband’s sweet, sweet parents have this prayer by Thomas Merton on their refrigerator and I think it’s pretty much perfect for how I feel at the start of this Lenten season.
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” -Thomas Merton “Thoughts in Solitude”
Amen and amen.
If you’re not familiar with Lent, need a refresher, or just want some more information check out these sites!
USCCB Lenten Resources: This gives a good run-down and lots of extra information about Lent.
Message from the Pope: Pope Benedict’s Lenten message. It’s wonderful, I promise.