Today marks the start of the season known as Lent. Commonly referred to as Ash Wednesday, today was a day that made little difference to me for most of my life. Other than the two words printed at the bottom of the calendar, I didn’t notice much of a difference — until last year.
Last year, the day before Ash Wednesday, (also known as Fat Tuesday — a favorite of mine) I suddenly found myself fascinated by this seemingly random occurrence on the calendar. I did some research and studied the origin and meaning behind the day. I fell in love with the idea of preparing oneself for the celebration of the Resurrection. The idea of setting time aside to remove distractions and sin that may prevent one from growing closer to God was inspiring. I had fallen in love with the “idea” and completely missed what God was trying to teach me.
So I decided to wake up early the next day and attend the Ash Wednesday service up the street from my house. It was there, sitting in a pew, in the midst of complete strangers, that I felt God remind me of something I had been trying to forget. I’m not going to live forever.
When the priest spread the ashes on my forehead and uttered those infamous words:
“Remember you are from dust and to dust you shall return”
They echoed in my head for the rest of the day. They even continued following me for the next few weeks. I felt God recalling to my mind the fact that my time here will not last forever. I was reminded that I am meant to make every moment count toward His glory. I was reminded that in order for me to rightly celebrate the miracle of Easter, I must acknowledge that this earthly temple will fall.
I know for many, Lent represents tired old tradition where people give up things they probably shouldn’t be doing anyways. But for me, it is a reminder that I will die one day, so I should make sure I really live today.
Because if I forget that death is real; I forget the glorious gift that is, Resurrection.