Ash Wednesday 2017
THE WAY of LENT
By Rev. Jennifer Pick
"Life is a pilgrimage.
But sometimes is takes a pilgrimage to discover life."
"Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your hearts, with fasting,
with weeping, and with sorrow."
Image: "The Way Back" for Ash Wednesday. ©Todd Pick, 2017.
THE SHAPE OF THE SEASON
Lent begins in ashes and ends in the silence of the tomb before Easter morning. The 40 days from Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday are a season of re-centering so that we might learn and live The Way of Christ more fully. Sundays are not included because even within the valleys and darkness of Lent, they are "little Easters"—days of celebrating the Risen One, days of light.
In the life of the Church, these days invite us to journey into the depth of our souls—to the center of our being. It's a time of prayer and fasting. It's a season of repentance and renewal which invites us to the center of God's Being.
The labyrinthine way of Lent invites us to come closer to God, to know God and to be known by God. It invites us to prepare our hearts to journey once again to the place where death and resurrection meet.
For thousands of years, religious people have made pilgrimages of the heart and body as a way of gaining perspective and insight. While often we choose to take a particular journey, there are oftentimes journeys which choose us. And the Lenten pilgrimage has a peculiar habit of taking us on a journey, leaving us in a much different place than it found us.
THE WAY OF THE PILGRIM
We come once again the threshold of our Lenten journey: Ash Wednesday. We wear the sign of the cross and remember that we are earthen—fragile, finite and fallen. We are called back to the dust of creation, which is also a reminder to pay particular attention to the ground beneath our feet.
We set out on a journey which invites us to trek through the interior landscapes of heart and soul. We remember what ties us to the Ground of our being—that which is not fleeting, that which does not fail us. We remember that we are not alone, no matter where the journey may take us.
As we set out to wander deeply into the wildernesses of our lives, may we spend time exploring what we find there. May we spend time walking with God, as pilgrims do. May we make our "way" together through this poignant season that culminates in the way to the cross—and finally the empty tomb of Easter. For Christ invites us into this season so that we might know new life and forgiveness.
"THE WAY BACK"
Poetry by Rev. Todd Pick
Twisting and turning
The Lenten pilgrimage awaits Ready for those who choose it willingly Ready to choose us—
the wandering, the weary and worn
One foot, now the other
Down this ancient path well-trod
Following footprints through ash, sand and thorn
From humility and humbleness
To forgiveness and freedom
A pathway for letting go—releasing and risk-taking
A journey of letting in—receiving and breath-taking
Through this desert of sorrow and sin
From all evil without, from all darkness within
Turn back, turn over, turn around
Hearts once hardened tear, breaking open
The beautiful-but-not-yet calls out from the deep
Twisting and turning, tracing mourning and mortality
To the heart of humanity
Twisting and (re)turning, tracing goodness and grace
To the heart of the Holy
Walk on to re-creation, to resurrection
One foot, now the other
"Rise up again, beloved
And return to me"