Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, and the Season of Lent

I am a member of a church where one liturgical season ends and another begins this week. This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the first day of the season we call Lent.

Lent is not about giving things up; not about chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, or social media. During Lent, we take an honest, insightful look at who we really are. We reflect on what we hold onto that holds us back from becoming our truest selves. We look ourselves in the eye and recognize what we do not truly need. Lent is a season of preparation and anticipation of the new life of Easter.

Lent is a season for remembering and saying goodbye.

Mardi Gras

Tuesday is the threshold of the new season. Because Lent is so significant, and can be challenging, people may need to let off steam before it begins. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is an opportunity to rid ourselves of what we will not need during Lent.

It is traditional in the particular church where I am a member to share a pancake supper on Tuesday. The idea is that people empty fattening ingredients, like milk and eggs, out of their homes to begin fasting for Lent.

We have taken stock of ourselves and recognized what we do not need, what slows us down. Mardi Gras is the day we open our tightly gripping fingers and let go. We assert our freedom from these habits and things. We lift what we do not need and toss it aside.

Tuesday is the first step. On Mardi Gras, we remember and begin to saying goodbye.

Ash Wednesday

Wednesday we begin a new season. On the first day of Lent we remember whatever holds us back from the Sacred is dust and ash. We say out loud that any obstacle, any burden in our way is ashes and dust.

We remember and practice the sacred loving presence in our lives. The dust and ashes blow away.

On Wednesday we close our eyes to what separates us from the divine loving presence. We put our reflections into practice and set aside what holds us back.

To make sure we remember, we remind ourselves with ashes on our foreheads.

the Season of Lent

Lent is a season about remembering and saying goodbye.

We remember who we are and who we are becoming. The time we have spent reflecting is filled with reminders of our true selves and our deepest values. We put distractions and obstacles out of our minds to focus on remembering where we are headed. Of all the things we would like to make different, we choose one on which to concentrate.

We say goodbye to everything weighing us down or holding us back. Setting aside habits and relationships, possessions and expectations, we move forward.

This is a season of meaningful change.

Who reminds you of the values and principles you are putting into practice today?

What are you saying goodbye to during this year’s Lent?

[Image by Johnragai-Moment Catcher]

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