Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ash Wednesday 2011

This morning, I woke up at 530AM and did some push-ups and sit-ups like my buddy Jake does every day.  I had picked up this ritual when we were hanging out for a few days last year, but had lost the habit.  After getting dressed, I then proceeded into the kitchen and began heating water for green tea, cooking eggs, and peeling an orange for breakfast.  I had pulled up my Bible and a small Moleskine journal.  As I finished preparing my breakfast, I sat down, paused, and began to reflect on the Book I was about to open, the Author, and His great love for me. I then read, "I tell you, something greater than the temple is here." As I reflected on this short passage of scripture, I considered the day, and the season of the year.

Today starts the season of lent, and millions of Christians around the world will gather in community to participate in a 40 day period of fasting, prayer, almsgiving, and repentance. I went to a local church at 7AM with my fiancée and our mutual friend Jess.  I've attended an Ash Wednesday service for the last several years because I feel like it is a great reminder, as well as a great opportunity to be intentional in my pursuit of knowing God better and loving my neighbor better.

As Father Fred placed ashes on my forehead, he admonished me with a reminder, much as others had done in years past. "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel." A simple message, and personally, I feel like it's one I need to be reminded of daily and not annually.  So as I walked back to my seat, I knelt and reflected.  God, what could I give up or add to my life that would help me become the best version of myself I could possibly be.  I know the version of myself that loves You and loves others best, is the the best version of myself.

And so I've committed to four things this year.

Engage in a daily fitness regimen. No matter where I am, I can do push-ups and sit-ups. If I can run, walk, or engage in other physical activity I will.

Don't wake up or go to sleep to the smart phone--I've developed this horrible habit over the last two years of checking my email, facebook, and twitter as I'm waking and as I'm lying down.  My justification is that it helps me prepare for my day, as well as keep up with the daily happenings with my friends. I think I can do without this habit.

Give more generously to causes I care about--I created a facebook cause wish to attempt to raise $1000 for Nuru International in honor of my birthday.  It is my hope that together my friends and I can totally crush that goal, and I plan to give generously throughout this lenten season. I will be in Kuria, Kenya for my birthday, and I imagine I will be reporting in detail what I see and feel.

Spend intentional time in prayer--In a culture that celebrates and encourages autonomy, it is all to easy to get weighed down with burdens and not call out for help. I've been very guilty of this as of late. I believe prayer is both a communicative gift from the Creator of the universe and a reminder that we can and should ask for help.

Some say, "Why observe lent? You don't need to have a special time of year to draw closer to God." I agree, I don't need a special time of year to start or end any habit, but lent offers a nudge toward becoming the person I want to be. It also is an opportunity for me to reflect on the wilderness fast of Jesus, and prepare, my heart, my mind, my body, and my soul to more richly celebrate Resurrection Sunday.

What about you?  Are you adding or giving up something during this season, to pursue Christ more passionately?  May we all take time to reflect and build habits that will help each of us to become the best version of ourselves we can be not only for our own sake and as an expression of adoration for our Creator, but for the sake of our fellow human beings.

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