If we pay attention, there are different points of starting over during the year, during life, during pilgrimage. The seasons offer this, but on this day, the consideration is a point of reference in the Church calendar.
I've stated before that I am not High Church in regular practice, but certainly am a closet follower. The rhythm of the church's High Holy days bring a stability, a continuity that my wandering, careless spirit requires. I tend to get out of alignment with normal usage over the course of time!
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. For me, for years, this has been a time of centering, of examining, of clarifying, of simplifying. Through a year's time, clutter accumulates in the home and in the heart. The Lenten season and Spring are perfectly suited to cleaning, clearing and setting to rights.
Ash Wednesday is historically, with the placing of ashes on the forehead, a sign of humiliation. A reminder of who we are and Whose glorious and ultimate humiliation we celebrate this season. And yes, proper humility on my part is indeed appropriate. The lines from Stuart Townend's hymn come to mind "...all the blessings He deserved, poured on my unworthy soul...."
This also includes the idea of repentance for waywardness, foolish choices and points of disobedience adding to the heart's clutter and causing me to get off into what the ancients call 'by-paths'. These also causes me to live beneath my privileges as the child of the King I follow and serve.
Penitence, according to Anglican Dean Paul Zahl is: "seeing things as they are and flinging back that discouraging truth to God to take care of and dispose."
The prophet Joel says : "Therefore also now, says the Lord, turn and keep turning to me with all your heart...until every hindrance is removed and the broken fellowship is restored. Rend your heart and not your garments and return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness..." [Joel 2.12-14]
So, Dear Reader, whether High church or Low, Cloister or Chapel, may we go forward into this season with a new purpose and clear focus. As we weed our gardens and freshen our homes, may we apply the same efforts to our hearts that our Lord may be honored and glorified and our steps lighter as we go gently through our world.