Ash Wednesday

Today is Ash Wednesday. Wednesdays are long days for me, so I haven't had loads of free time to contemplate the depth of this day's significance. However, I did attend a church service this morning and also had a chance to talk with co-therapists at lunch about some of the meaning Ash Wednesday has in our lives. I thought I'd take a stab at communicating a few of my own musings:

For starters, I think that Evangelicals tend to have an "Easter-based faith". It seems happier and easier to focus on a Resurrection Lord than on a Suffering Messiah. I understand this mentality. In my own life I'd rather be coasting along, worry-free and happy, rather than dealing with circumstancial struggles or internal pain. In my work, I love hearing about how a patient is "getting better" (whatever that means) because of therapy. On the other hand, I often find myself dreading sessions where darkness fills the room and I have no choice but to enter into the horror of my patient's existence. Yet isn't that what Jesus did and what God does with all of us?

Ash Wednesday gives meaning to the Resurrection. And I don't think this only means that we need to know that Jesus went through bad things or that we are sinners in order to see how good the good is. While this is true, there is more that requires a sort of dreadful contemplation. This world is messed up. I'm talking about poverty, hunger, war, greed, physical and mental illness...the list goes on. I believe part of the lenten season is entering into the suffering of the world. If I only do this for the purpose of being grateful that God has given me much, I will have missed the point. Awareness and contemplation of suffering automatically connects me to that pain, whether I want it to or not. If I choose to do nothing about it, I disconnect myself from Christ's suffering. I believe that the resurrection has earthly, as well as heavenly, implications. God raised Jesus from the dead and brought him back to earth. This world groans for "resurrection". We cannot passively wait for heaven. My hope is that I will take advantage of lent this year to come to know my own shadow side as well as the deep, dark shadows of this present world/country and make some new steps toward affecting change. Jesus lived with, loved, and healed the dark parts of creation. Can I?


Chris Spinks said...

Whoa! I am married to this woman. How lucky am I? Beauty and thoughtful reflection rolled into one truly amazing human.

ke said...

thanks gail. these are great thoughts that will help me reflect on lent this year.

beth said...

appreciate your thoughts, gail. ash wednesday kind of slipped past me this year. the last several years the lenten season has been hugely significant to me (thanks to jacob's well) and it really does open you to greater depths. glad to have your reminder.