Wednesday, 17 February, marks Ash Wednesday, when the Season of Lent begins for Christians. What makes Ash Wednesday and Lent significant, year after year?
A Christian Response
I engage in daily prayer and meditation. Over dozens of years, a variety of spiritual practices have, at one time or another, given life, been shed, and occasionally re-embraced. A consistent thread is to make deliberate time periods for intentional reflection and turning toward God. Why is this important? In this time of my life I want to be a whole person, delightfully alive, and hallowed into radical authenticity and vivid presence. I know that God unabashedly loves me—and everyone who I desire to serve with mutuality, friendship, and compassionate care. I want to participate as fully as I can in God’s ongoing love affair with humanity and all of the cosmos.
Spirituality is not a separate part of who I am every day—it is embodied and experienced through my senses and life particulars. I welcome the defined time period of Lent to turn to God with my whole self. This turning is ultimately toward the world.
An Olympic Story
Tonight I watched Olympic figure skating, pondered Lent, and allowed the Hebrew Scripture, “Return to me with your whole heart” (Jl 2:12) to glide within me. I looked at ice dancers become grace in motion—turning, spinning, twirling, arching, moving towards, away, tucking and reaching. I visually experienced the spiritual journey. Surely it encompasses all these moves. We are not meant to be spectators in life! We are invited to engage, participate, train, fall, glide, spin, embrace, and turn towards one another and God. Music dances through our soul, as rhythm glides into expression in our body and daily life.
Ash Wednesday and Lent invite a fresh turning—or return—to God’s embrace. As much as each of us is on a solitary journey, it is also communal. Meeting with a spiritual director can encourage genuine seeking and conversion. During spiritual direction we are accompanied in our turning to God with our whole heart, broken heart, or dancing heart.
Will you join me in turning toward spiritual practice, a daily discipline, and a radical acceptance of wholeness and connection with all of creation? Lent can spring the frozen places in our heart and actions, thaw our resistance to compassionate love, and grow our sacred dance with the Beloved.
If you are seeking a spiritual director to accompany you, click here to discover good questions and spiritual directors to interview through the online, searchable: Seek and Find: A Worldwide Resource Guide of Available Spiritual Directors.