re::LENT::less

It’s Ash Wednesday again, and before 10 a.m. I already had eaten a Three Musketeer Bar. But I’m not giving up chocolate for Lent, so that’s ok. Right?

For the next seven weeks, I’ll go on eating meat on Fridays, I will probably slip up and sing an Alleluia on Sundays, and the fast I have chosen, to give up the hours between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., seems self-indulgent to most. In fact, when I tell people what I that I am going to bed on time for Lent, they look at me like, “I wish!” It would be no sacrifice for them.

I’m not very good at Lent.

I’m not even sporting an ashen cross on my forehead. There’s no charred mark identifying me with Christ for today. In fact, I won’t even attend an Ash Wednesday service today, since that’s not part of my church’s tradition.

But as I have thought about this day, imagined myself being sent by the Spirit into the wilderness like Jesus, I thought about the mark that He wore. His hair still wet from the baptismal dip in the Jordan by his cousin John,  Jesus left the crowds and walked into the desert alone. He took no food; the forty days was a fast. He didn’t need a compass; the Spirit would lead him.

And He didn’t need an ashen cross on His forehead because a wooden cross already filled His heart.

He entered the wilderness to prepare to die.

So even as my forehead stands empty, I pray that my life does not go unmarked.

Though no ash has touched my skin, may the grief and sorrow of the cross sear deep into my heart.

And may this wilderness I walk though with Jesus prepare me to die a thousand deaths as each day I pick up my cross and follow him.

::

More Ash Wednesday posts . . .

 

Lent + Giving Up Chocolate =” by Amber Robinson

Why Do Lent?” by Ann Voskamp

Slow-Down Fast: Singletasking” by Ann Kroeker

::

The wilderness feels a little less daunting since yesterday afternoon when I received my latest cancer test results. From all indications, I continue to be cancer free – almost 30 months! I feel great and am grateful beyond belief to be celebrating life even as I contemplate His death.

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Charity Singleton Craig

Charity Singleton Craig is a writer, author, and speaker, helping readers grow in their faith and experience true hope in the middle of life’s joys and sorrows. She is the author of My Year in Words: what I learned from choosing one word a week for one year and coauthor of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts.

  • reply Connie@raise your eyes ,

    Oh Charity…lovely Lenten writing…I pray that our lives be marked by His signature…praising Him with you for wonderful test results!

    • reply Michelle DeRusha@Graceful ,

      A very convicting post, Charity — particularly these lines:

      So even as my forehead stands empty, I pray that my life does not go unmarked.
      Though no ash has touched my skin, may the grief and sorrow of the cross sear deep into my heart.

      You nailed the essence of Lent, with our without the ash on the forehead.

      And as for your fast, I think it’s a huge sacrifice (she says as she types at 11:09 p.m.).

      • reply Cheryl Smith ,

        “He didn’t need an ashen cross on His forehead because a wooden cross already filled His heart.” And isn’t the heart where it all started, and continues starting in us?

        • reply Charity Singleton ,

          Cassandra — Thanks for popping back over here. I would be delighted to be included in your round up if there is room for one more. Blogging about the Lenten observance has become a habit of mine.

          • reply Charity Singleton ,

            Amber – Oh, you have captured something there with the phrase “Lenten fear.” Just today at work when some coworkers were discussing Lent, they were saying that this or that would be hard. I said, “That’s part of the point. We can’t do it without Jesus.”

            • reply Cassandra Frear ,

              Lovely. I like your discipline of rest. Sometimes I’ve needed to take up rest as a discipline, too.

              Would you like to be included in my round-up on the Moonboat? I think your post has a place there.

              • reply amber@mercyrising ,

                I agree with Ann, “I pray that my life does not go unmarked, ” is beautiful. It also touches on a Lenten “fear” in all of us. That we would waste our lives here.

                Thank you for that beautiful post.

                • reply Mari ,

                  My church doesn’t celebrate lent and I have always considered it a practice “just” for Catholics. More and more though, I see the spiritual benefits of setting aside this time to specifically reflect on the cross. Not sure about the whole giving up thing though, I’m REALLY bad at following through!!
                  *Rejoicing with you on clean test results!

                  • reply Ann Kroeker ,

                    And….most importantly….Hooray for your clean test results! I was honored to be with you to see relief and joy flood your face on Tuesday!

                    • reply Ann Kroeker ,

                      “So even as my forehead stands empty, I pray that my life does not go unmarked.”

                      As you know, I went for the first time to an Ash Wednesday service. So I guess I should say, “Even though my forehead *was* marked, I pray that my life is what is truly marked.”

                      Thank you for your Lenten honesty. And wisdom.

                      The Spirit led Him there to the wilderness…where will the Spirit lead us?

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