Remembering to Remember

9 Mar

The ashes come from the previous year’s palms from Palm Sunday

Oh how easily we forget. I need reminders. All of the time. I need to remember how to love because I get so wrapped up with myself and my needs and my hopes and dreams. I so easily forget everyone else. I forget to notice the grass. I say this because today on my lunch break, I made a point to notice it. If I don’t stop to slow down and notice, the world will continue at it’s breakneck pace and I will forget again. Today is Ash Wednesday. I brought my life group (a group of women I co-lead on Wednesday nights), to a traditional Ash Wednesday service, not knowing what to expect. We do not go to a traditional church, but instead go to what some call a “happy clappy church” or a “hugging church” where weekly we experience community and the joy of God. It’s amazing. It’s healing. It’s done so much for my soul. I love it there and it has become more like home than any place I’ve ever belonged.

At our church, Christian Assembly, we don’t often get a chance to experience a liturgical service where there is chanting and hymns and prayers where we repeat after the pastor. Tonight was that at St. James Episcopal. It was very procedural compared to what I’m used to, which in some ways was freeing. It was kneel. It was ashes. It was “From dust you came and to dust you will go.” It was a reminder of all that Jesus did for us brought forth in an unfamiliar way. It was beautiful.

As I watched these women go to have the ashes placed on their foreheads, I couldn’t help but smile. I love exposing people to new things. I love traditions. I love Ash Wednesday. On no other day throughout the year except for maybe Good Friday do I get the chance to pause and reflect on the sacrifice that was made for me. For me, Lent has become sacred. It is about preparing my heart for Jesus’ crucifiction. It is a time to acknowledge the ways that I have sinned and the ways in which I need a savior. It’s reminder that we are all here for such a short time.

I don’t want to take advantage. I want to love well. I want to believe strongly. I want to remember. Lent is a great time to remember and to fast. God doesn’t need us to fast, but sometimes we need ourselves to. In times of fasting, I become profoundly aware that I am not in control. There is this illusion that I walk around with that makes me think that I am. But I am not. I remember that when I go without food. My stomach growls. I get cranky. I simply need food to survive. And I need it often. In giving it up, I remember that if it weren’t for provision, I wouldn’t have food in the first place. I am brought in communion with those who don’t have food. I am thankful in a new way because I am reminded again of what I have. I love this season. I feel like I have a new chance to reflect, pray, fast, and become aware of how little I can control. And for a perfectionist like me, something about that is quite freeing.

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