Lent is much like the act of sitting down while riding a bus. Though you are moving forward and going toward a destination; ultimately, you are stationary. The sitting down is what allows you to reflect, remember, and be, even though you are still going somewhere. Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is our permission to sit back and go with the ebbs and flows of the bus ride. There is an element of mystery because it is most likely a new route of prayer, repentance, fasting, and reflection. Receiving the ashes, made with palms from the previous year’s Easter celebration, reminds us where we have been and where we are to go. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (6:20-21).
The forty day journey to Easter requires our greatest humility. The spiritual acts of denying ourselves simple luxuries allow us to find renewed focus. Lent, these intense forty days of focus, prepare us for the emotional events of Christ’s death and resurrection. When we make time to examine our hearts, we find our way toward the Kingdom of God, toward heaven. Ash Wednesday is when we find any seat (because they are equally challenging) on the bus, sit down, and prepare for the long ride toward Easter’s hallelujah. -- Blair Tolbert