Ash Wednesday: New Beginnings.

Today starts the somber season of Lent.  I'm hoping that this will be a time of reflection and thoughtfulness for me.  To that end, in addition to giving up chocolate and alcohol (which has almost become rote for me...I've been giving up chocolate for over 20 years now and I've been giving up alcohol for at least 2 years), I'm also TRYING to give up foul language.  (I have already failed at this several times this's going to be a real challenge for me.  That's not something I am proud of.  I don't recall always having these words fly out of my mouth without any thought, but more and more I find it happening; and that's not good in my book.)

The whole idea, at least for me, in giving up for Lent is a practice in mindfulness.  I am sorry to say that I much of the time I am NOT mindful.  Not mindful of what I put into my body, but perhaps even more important, not mindful of what comes out.  The words that I say; the expressions behind them are all too often careless on my part.  This was all too apparent this morning as I drove to work.  My focus is getting on where I need to be and the frustrations of traffic and those NOT focused on the road have brought me stress and frustration.  Out of that comes language.  Before I could even think (there's the key word right there), words came tumbling out of my mouth.  I heard them.  There I was only a few hours into Ash Wednesday and already I was failing.

But I reminded myself, Lent is a time of reflection.  It is not a time to think of failures or success.  It is a time to make a fresh start and listen.

Looking upon the lectionary readings for today, Psalm 51 reminded me of this: "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion   blot out my transgressions.   Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin...Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.   Let me hear joy and gladness; let the ones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence   or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."

In these 6+ weeks before Easter, I plan to make every attempt to TRY and be more mindful.  To listen before I speak.  To THINK before I speak.  To live each day with awareness.  And when I err (because you KNOW I will; I KNOW I will), to pause, reflect and go on.

I want to make this a MEANINGFUL Lent.  I want to come away from these 40+ days WITH something.  (I'm not sure what that something might look like, but...)  I want to come away from this time changed.  And the only way to do that (at least for me) is to be mindful.  As I go down this Lenten path, I pray:  "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me."


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