Today is Ash Wednesday. That may not mean much to most of us unless we are part of a church community that marks this day at the beginning of Lent. To have a cross of ashes marked on your forehead with the words: "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return" can be a sobering reminder of our mortality. That's no bad thing. We are all heading in the direction of returning to dust!
But rather than that being a morbid thing to focus on it seems to me that "dying before you die" is the best preparation for the final dying when we let go of our earthly bodies. The key words here are "let go". Letting go in a myriad of ways is one of the best ways to grow more like Jesus. And after all it is Jesus's journey to the cross that we focus on during Lent.
So rather than seeing Lent as a time of "giving up ice-cream" or whatever other rather trivial "sacrifices" we might dream up, I suggest thinking of Lent as a time to focus on letting go in the midst of whatever each day brings. These "little deaths" might be as simple (and challenging) as letting go your need to be right in an argument; letting go the peaceful half hour you thought you were going to have before that person phoned you; letting go your bruised ego when you weren't acknowledged; letting go your planned outing when your friend has a cold… I'm sure you get the idea!
If you decide to make letting go more consciously a Lenten practice you might want to pause at the end of the day and reflect: what did I let go of today? did I let go easily or with a struggle?
Jesus help me to let go so many things I cling to
without even knowing I do.
And in my letting go
remind me that I am keeping you company
on your letting go journey to the cross.