Ash Wednesday is upon us, which means it’s time to renew my love/hate relationship with Lent. Of all the liturgical seasons, it’s my least favorite. That’s because it’s about sacrifice and self-denial and I’m not good at those things. Of all the things about Lent, the one that people are probably most familiar is giving something up. I’ve done this in the past, giving up things like soft drinks (harder than it sounds, I drink a lot of Pepsi) and other stuff (but not coffee, I’m not crazy). One year, I got creative and gave up being a smart ass. It wasn’t a success. Being a smart ass is a large part of my personality and I didn’t make it a week.
The last couple of years, I haven’t done this because I realized it wasn’t getting me anywhere. I suppose it is nice to be connected to a couple of thousand years of tradition, but in the long run, it was making zero difference in my life. Plus, I couldn’t think of anything significant that I had a prayer of successfully giving up. So, last year, I gave up giving something up. It was the best Lenten season I’d had in years. I thought about resuming the practice this year and I’m still on the fence about it.
I’d like to say I’ve put a lot of thought into what I might do in connection this year, but the fact is I forgot about it. I had such high hopes, too. Back in January, Kimberly Knight posted on Facebook saying she was going to be in NYC on Ash Wednesday this year and wanted to know where she could get her ashes. I said to myself, “Oh, Ash Wednesday is coming up. I ought to do something about that.” After which, I found the date, made a note on my calendar and promptly forgot about it. Until this week. Granted things have been a little hectic around here, what with my truck getting totaled and the resultant car shopping (which isn’t nearly as much fun as it was when I was younger). But, the truth is that’s only taken up the last couple of weeks so it really is no excuse. As today got closer, I began to see others writing about Lent, or ashes or what they were planning for the season and, yet again, I realized I’d spaced and let something get away from me.
Every time this happens (and it happens a lot), I beat myself up and say that if I engaged in more spiritual disciplines and practices I wouldn’t keep forgetting the God stuff. That maybe, just maybe, if I engaged in some daily rituals, I’d be better at it and I might not be so disrespectful to God. But, this morning as I wrote this, it dawned on me that I am a child of a forgiving God who realizes how scatterbrained I am and loves me anyway. Which is actually making me want to engage in those disciplines and practices. Funny how that works.