Today is Ash Wednesday and it marks the start of the lent season before Easter. I did not grow up with an understanding of lent and I most definitely didn’t understand that there was a church liturgical calendar. I plan to go much deeper into the liturgical calendar in another post but for now, I’ll just say that I appreciate the rhythm that this type of tradition brings that reminds us of the foundational story God has given us on which we can build our faith in whatever season of life we find ourselves.

As I reflect on Ash Wednesday I am thinking about what practice or act of sacrifice I could put in place for the next few weeks. I want this to be an intentional time to examine my heart in ways it can be brought closer to renewal.

On Ash Wednesday, we think about our human mortality and the fact that we are sinful people. If we forget these things, we can lose sight of our need for God. At different times in my life I have struggled with a belief in God. But when I remember my complete inability to be a person who always builds others up and always gives of myself for the needs of others, I remember my need for a God who can fill in the gaps.

As a mother, knowing that I will not be able to love my children the way that they always need me to is difficult for me to accept. I can remember today that it is not possible and that it is okay because God does love them perfectly. He will help guide me if I listen. He will fill in the gaps.

When looking into more about Ash Wednesday, I found an image:

a woman in a hospital bed

She stood out to me immediately because I have been in that room. Years ago my mother lay on a bed looking frail and lifeless as this woman does. It pains me to think about this moment in my life but leaning into it at times is healthy for me to process. She didn’t seem to understand what was happening but she did speak the name of Jesus in her last few breaths. At that moment, I believe she met him.

Sitting in that room again as I reflect on this painting reminds me of the unpredictability of life. We must take advantage of this life we have to live. To treat others with love as best we can and to treat ourselves with grace and kindness like we would others.

So today, Ash Wednesday, I am reminded of two things. 1. I am not perfect and 2. Life is unpredictable and often short. What does Ash Wednesday bring up for you? How can you get ready to move into a time of renewal and healing?