Ash Wednesday Thoughts.
About 5 years ago I began carrying a pocket rosary. I'm not sure why, I just did. I'm not Catholic and in fact purchased it at a Protestant church (St John the Divine in NYC). On most days I carry it in my pocket; some days I hold it in my hand and count beads as I recite silent prayers on my lunch break, or on the bus, or while walking. Some days I forget about it and simply put it in my pocket in the same way I grab my key as I dress in the morning. But today as I grabbed it I paused before putting it in my pocket. Today is different.
Today is Ash Wednesday, one of the holiest days of the Christian calendar. It's a day of remembrance and repentance, to remember that it is from ashes we came and to ashes we will return. It's also a remembrance of Jesus entering the desert to fast, pray, and meditate for forty days. Christians are called to do the same; to fast and pray for forty days; to have serious introspection, to live lean and come out new on the other side.
In modern times the desert can be a metaphoric place; a state of being rather than a physical place. And to me this is more appropriate now than ever. In 2020-21 aren't we all in a sort of metaphoric desert? There is no better time than now to look at ourselves and think of how to make things better in the world.
And by this I do not mean repenting in the most common sense of the word (begging for forgiveness and feeling sorry), but on the contrary. To me repent is a verb, an action word. Other definitions of the word are to “think anew, change one's mind,” and also to “turn around” (and face God). One of the first things the Christ (it was a title not his last name) said when he left the desert and began to preach was, “Repent [think differently and turn around], for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” ~ Matthew 4:17
So on this day I consciously begin to look inward; to look at myself first. A better world is possible. And this is what I was thinking as I grabbed my small rosary and paused before putting it in my pocket as I dressed for work this morning. But now I'm rambling; I'll get off my little soapbox. Peace, Salaam, Shalom.