It is hard to write about Lent when it is sunny and 74 degrees outside. The weather is decidedly un-Lenten. Who wants to think about fasting and deprivation when all you feel like doing is sitting and soaking in the sunshine and letting your body create more vitamin D?
Today is Ash Wednesday. All around the world liturgical Christians are reminded in tangible form that we are dust without the Spirit of God. It begins a forty day journey of remembering. Lent is the abstaining, fasting, from something that creates in our souls room for more of God.
I have forty days to practice this discipline. I have forty days to try and fail. Yes, every year I fail miserably at Lent. Forty days is a long time to try and be better than before. Even when I get it "right" and complete my fast perfectly I fail.
How can being perfect mean failing? It is failing when I think I have completed my fast under my own power. I can force myself by sheer will to not do something. However, it is failing when I focus too much on the abstaining and not enough on the reason for the fast.
I forget, slip up and "paint pictures of Egypt" the way the Israelites did during their forty year Lent. Complaining all the time even when God provides for me. I also fool myself into thinking I have something to do with my getting it right, like the Pharisees; either position is failing to focus on Jesus.
Lent isn't about Lent. It is really about Easter. It is the process of opening our hearts to Easter Grace.
Grace that is greater than all our sin.
Grace that meets us where we are - dirt.
Grace that creates beauty out of ashes.
Here are some great resources for Lent: