Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Easter Cycle of the ancient Christian year. (For more, see Advent, Easter and Ordinary Time: Knowing the Christian Calendar.)
Today begins the Lenten season, for which Christians typically give something up.
Along with meat and alcohol, this year for Lent I’m going to give up something else. Insofar as I can, I’m going to give up myself.
I’m going to give up my ego. My self-identification. My drive to make something of myself, to be someone, to matter. I’m going to try to give up the whole idea of myself as a separate, independent being in the world—as a person who has any real existence at all outside of the awesomely fearful sacrifice made by Jesus Christ on behalf of all mankind (including, even, me).
I thought I’d give my all to spending forty days rooted in the vast and hollow darkness of how undeserving I am of the sanctification of the cross, of remaining in the terrible truth of how constantly and prodigiously I squander what God has given me, of how shamelessly, easily, and opportunistically I forget that I’m a Christian—of how readily, with the first shiny object that passes before my eyes, I abandon Christ, though he has never once abandoned me.
Christianity is hardcore. It’s as hardcore as it gets. It’s as personal as it gets. It’s as transformative as it gets.
And it’s all about Jesus on the cross.
Time to move with Jesus into the time when, lost and alone, he wandered in the wilderness for forty days. Did he know what was waiting for him on the other end of that trial? Did he know what would so soon be asked of his spirit, his resolve, his love, his body?
I don’t know. But I do know what he did. And I know why he did it.
Time to show that.
Time to be with that.