This is my first ash-less Ash Wednesday in twelve or so years.
It is somewhat striking to me to consider that. But recently it’s been hard for me to forget that we do indeed come from dust, and it is to the dust we all shall return.
This whole year has been made heavy by the constant reminder of our mortality and our inevitable deaths. Charts and numbers and statistics and graphs and articles and percentages and ratios. They’re all faceless reminders that our lives are all marching toward our eventual ends, but right now we are all more susceptible than ever. We are all vulnerable.
It’s always been the case that your life or the life of someone you know could be stolen away in at any moment through disease or disaster. It just feels dramatically more obvious right now. The reality of death has devastated me this year, and in the last couple months in particular. I have felt the pain from the grief and sorrow of death so deeply that it has radiated down into the very marrow of own bones. It has haunted my dreams. It has attempted to find ways to impact nearly every aspect of my daily life.
Lent for me this year is beginning with an understanding of death that feels all too personal. And as I look towards April 4th, Easter Sunday, I feel as if I will only be able to inch towards it in faith. Things aren’t so easy for me these days. Seasons like these are not just some thoughtful times of reflection on the meaning of our mortality. I’m living it. Many of you are, too.
It takes imagination to have hope. It’s been very cold this winter. Here in Nebraska we made it down to -23. As I sit in my van all bundled up, waiting for the windows to defrost, I try to imagine green grass, yellow daffodils popping up around town, tulips and redbuds announcing that life doesn’t give up. And so I look forward in hope for spring. Resurrection is as real as death is. Sometimes that feels hard to believe. It takes imagination. It takes hope.
It’s kind of silly for me to think about what I’m giving up this year for lent. It all feels pretty trivial considering how much so many of us have already given up this past year. So I guess my goal this lenten season is to not give up. To not give up on hope, on joy, or on faith. With my friends, my family, and with myself.