Ash Wednesday Reflection
“Yet, even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your hearts, with fasting, with weeping, and with sorrow; tear your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord you God, for he is merciful and compassionate, very patient, full of faithful love, and ready to forgive.” Joel 2: 12-13
We begin Lent with Ash Wednesday today. The ashes are a very public mark of what is to be a private, personal journey. I share the following reflection which is a wonderful reflection of the inner work Lent invites us to do.
Smudges on the Soul: A Meditation for Ash Wednesday by Safiya Fousa
“I would rather wear the smudge on my forehead than to admit its residence upon my soul. I prefer a crude cross above my eyes to questions about runny mascara and smudged liner. In a place where self-confidence is rewarded and any sign of weakness or emotional predisposition is held suspect, it is difficult to consider actually following the advice of the prophet to return to the Lord with fasting, with weeping and with mourning. It is, however, acceptable – maybe even fashionable to appear in public with a dirty forehead as a sign that I have religion. It is amazing how the symbols of piety, sackcloth and ashes, have been transformed into a mask that hides me from myself and circumvents the intent of Ash Wednesday.”
“Rend your hearts and not your garments,” the prophet said in Joel 2:13. The gift of the day is personal reflection, a season of confession, and change. Start the arduous journey from shadow to substance, from ritual to reality, from façade to faith. Today, choose the harder course. It is easier to buy new clothing than to mend a soul.”
Prayer: Lord, as I begin this year’s Lenten Journey, turn my attention to the things that matter most to you. Amen.