A Word about Dust

Ash Wednesday

I’m writing about dust as I look out of the window and see white dust fall from the sky. It’s snowing again…

Remember that you are dust and that to dust you shall return. 

These words are sacred speak that are a part of the Ash Wednesday service liturgy. They are spoken by the pastor as they impose (a fancy word for put or place) ashes on your forehead. These ashes literally mark the beginning of the season that is Lent – 40 days of reflection, repentance, remembering and renewal that all lead to crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.

Lent is a solemn occasion for sure, but I find it to be my favorite church season. I’m reflective by nature so this doesn’t come as a surprise. I also am someone who appreciates imagery and reminders of humanness; of brokenness, of being a part of something bigger than ourselves and of the need for restoration by something outside of ourselves.

Have you ever really dealt with ashes? Seen someone’s body reduced to ashes? My family cremates our faithful departed. And we don’t bury their remains. We keep them. We choose urns that speak to the person’s life and we create sacred space in our house so that they are always with us. One might be concerned that we are  running out of urn space in my parent’s house… That being said, I’ve seen the body of an elderly loved one go from flesh, bones and spirit to flesh and bones to ash. It never ceases to amaze how one person’s life can be reduced a small baggie full of fine, gray dust. It’s humbling. It’s terrifying. It’s the reality that is life. Continue reading

Forty Days, Forty Nights

I am a Christian. For anyone who is interested in my relationship with my faith, I’ve written about it here. One of the things I love about the denomination I belong to is that we subscribe to the Revised Common Lectionary. This means that we follow what is called a Liturgical calendar that organizes the year into church seasons. Our new year begins with Advent, which is the time of preparation before the birth of Jesus. After Advent comes Christmas, then Epiphany, then Lent and so on and so forth. We are about to begin the season of  Len, which starts tomorrow with Ash Wednesday and is my favorite season for a variety of reasons. Lent is the time that commemorates Jesus’ 40 days and 40 nights in the desert before officially beginning his public ministry. Christians mark the season of Lent by doing a variety of things including reflecting, fasting, sacrificing those things that would distract us from our faith walk, being in intentional community and practicing repentance – not just apologizing for wrongdoings but physically turning in another direction.

For me, Lent is a time of listening for God and being mindful of those things/people/situations that would distract me. Now, you may be thinking that I should always be listening for God, but I get so caught up in the everyday tasks of life, that I often neglect my spiritual practices. I like to think about Lent as the time that calls me to be focused and disciplined. I believe that God is always active in my life, but that I’m not always attuned to how God is working and Lent provides the time and space to just be…

This Lenten season I am excited to be participating in a group that is discussing Not Alone: Reflections on Faith and Depression by the Rev. Dr. Monica Coleman. Dr. Coleman is facilitating this group that will be journeying together through Lent as we reflect on depression, faith and life. A key part of this group is to journal your reflections after each day’s devotional reading. I will be sharing my thoughts here on Embracing My Shadow. I am doing this for a number of reasons:

  1. I want to continue to reflect on the way that my faith has impacted my struggle with depression.
  2. It’s important for me to have a space where I can write my thoughts.
  3. I want to be held accountable by my Shadow Lovers.

I look forward to this time of clearing – to a time when I can let go of those things that are distractions and reflect on how God might be speaking to me. I am not planning to do anything else other than this devotional group during Lent. I ask for your prayers and support during this journey.

You may not follow the Liturgical Calendar. You may be disconnected from the church. You may not even be Christian. But I truly believe that we can all benefit from times of reflection; times when we become centered and seek renewal. I look forward to this journey.

Love,

Me