Ash Valentine's Wednesday?

Lent it hard.  Or at least it is in my mind.  But Lent is SUPPOSED to be difficult.  It is supposed to be a challenge.  It is a time where we give up something that we have a fondness for (which explains why I give up chocolate and alcohol and NOT Lima beans or hot tea) or we give OF ourselves and do so unselfishly. (

To me, Lent starting off on Ash Wednesday is particularly hard and unfair in my book!  How can this be?  I mean Valentine's Day practically screams for wine and (boxes of) chocolate.
But perhaps I can make this a more meaningful Valentine's Day, by NOT indulging.  By doing something different.  I can show my love with a cross of ash and not sweet treats.  For love, like Lent, is NOT easy.  It is not hearts and flowers, but day to day life which can be beautiful, but also ugly.  Life is sweet, but also bitter.
And so on this Ash Wednesday, I will go into Lent with this in mind: "You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.  Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit."

Restore me and sustain me this Lenten season so that I (we?) can find meaning in what I have "sacrificed" by giving up and joy in what I can give back.

(The above is taken from Psalm 51 and is one of the lectionary readings for the day.  Other readings for Ash Wednesday this year are:  Joel 2:1-2, 12-17, Isaiah 58:1-12, 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10 and Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21.)


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