Today is both Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day. Fasting and ashes seem opposite of feasting and chocolate. Some celebrated yesterday, love with Mardi Gras.
Recently I visited two of my best friends. The past couple months had been very intense and hard for them. Amid a more chaotic house, we sat sharing stories of disaster and trouble. Each time I visit we go deep quickly being vulnerable about our lives. We bear witness to each other’s wounds and wonders. Our love is palpable. We are humble and truthful in sharing our questions, limits, losses, and desires.
Lent is about love, a clearing season to be deeply honest with God. We kneel to confess first hearing: “Dear friends in Christ, God is steadfast in love and infinite in mercy.”[i] We acknowledge our mortality, our frailty, failure, and limitation. Love humbly speaks raw, unvarnished truth, and love listens: love with ashes.
When I visit my friends, we usually enjoy a meal paired with cheese, wine, and chocolate. This time was simpler for they were fasting from many typical foods. They spoke of both taking account and feeling better, how fasting brought perspective and balance. We don’t need festive food or stories of success. Love is palpable in friends sharing lives as they are.
Jesus went into the wilderness after God said: You are my beloved with whom I am well pleased. Settle into Lent with this firm foundation. We are God’s beloved children. Instead of festive food, take account and gain perspective by fasting. Listen to Love. Speak your raw, unvarnished truth. Jesus calls us friends and invites us to humbly share our lives as we are: love with ashes.
[i] We use this for invitation to confession in Lent: “Dear friends in Christ, God is steadfast in love and infinite in mercy, welcoming sinners and inviting them to the Supper of the Lamb. Let us confess our sins confident in God’s forgiveness.” Adapted from The Book of Alternative Services of the Anglican Church of Canada (1985) Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, p217.
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