Well I scoffed my pancakes for Shrove Tuesday last night – very nice they were too thanks. It’s been more than a year since the last ones so they were very welcome. (I have eaten other things in the meantime in case you were worried.) It’s Ash Wednesday today of course and I can tell you it’s taken me a little while to decide on what actions to take for the Lent period and I finally decided after much head-banging right up until midnight last night!
The common conception (and probably quite a reasonable one) is of ‘giving something up’ for Lent. I prefer to take a slightly more lateral view of the meaning and apply it suitably. Some say this can be by offering of your time and efforts towards others for instance and I find that example a very pleasant one. Abstaining from certain things can be a very faithful and apt way of observing Lent, but so can other behaviours and thoughts.
Ash Wednesday liturgies are some of the very best attended of the year, of that there is no doubt. Some might crack that, that’s because the church is actually giving out something free (in the ashes)! I enjoy the symbolism of Ash Wednesday though.
Here is just one simple sentence for the day, which will be familiar to some but not others:
“Remember, man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return”
It’s just a simple thought and therein my small sermon ends as I do think that the principle of Lent is a good and useful one for those of different faiths and of no faith whatsoever. Contemplation can never be inconsequential if it is applied in positive thought and deed to our lives. It helps us to become better people and consequently better people for those around us. To take stock and simply attempt to change and improve things about ourselves is a cathartic and rewarding activity and experience. I doubt there are few of us haven’t actually done this or attempted to at some stage in our lives. In the annual calendar and more importantly the rhythms, seasons and flows of the year, Lent is a welcome and reassuring time to me. It’s not the only one but one of the many that have added to the fabric of my life since being old enough to understand. It’s an old friend and a welcome link with my youth and all the beliefs I have that grew then and yet still live within me.
So what did the midnight lamp’s oils thoughts bring then? Well three things actually. Two were of a simple nature that many will relate to. They concerned making myself a better person in a physical sense by promising to observe my regular Royal Canadian Air Force exercises every single day for Lent. Another was to simply cut out those desserts after dinner. Nothing unusual there perhaps and not really meant to be. The third one took a little more thought. I was thinking about the subject of anger and the part it plays in my life. I hope to say that this emotion does not feature as a too prominent one in my thoughts and the way I behave upon them but I would like to change for the better. Not perhaps by somehow attempting to eliminate anger as a repression of emotions can be a harmful one as we know, but rather by considering and being aware when it happens and to act in accordance and replace them with more positive thoughts. It’s as simple as that really.
What will you be observing for Lent?