Protestants don’t really observe this day that marks the beginning of Lent in a very significant way. It comes and it goes largely unnoticed. It begins the season of Lent that we also let slip by mostly unnoticed due to those past efforts to distance ourselves from Catholicism. But times are changing and I think we are rethinking the reasons for that old distance and as we do so, it has narrowed from unbridgeable chasms to little cracks in the path of life that we can step over from time to time.
I am recognizing more and more my need for the celebration of seasons in my mostly unliturgical life. I am beginning to recognize that I need physical type reminders – signs of who I am and what my life needs to be about. So, in the last few years, and especially since Wednesday morning is a regular morning of prayer, I have been concious of the beginning of Lent, of Ash Wednesday. I haven’t gone so far as to dab my forehead with ashes although I think that it could have a powerful meaning for me, be a powerful reminder of my need for repentance, of my constant need for grace.
I have not ritually started “giving up” something for Lent. Last year instead, I decided to concentrate instead on some aspect of my life that needs taking up in new ways. I suppose that means giving up an old way in itself. I’m not sure just what that will be yet but I know that my life gets very busy and I tend to concentrate on my needs rather than those of anyone else around me. I need to conciously put others first and maybe that is exactly what I need to do for the next 40 days – and thereafter.