I cannot help but think of the children’s nursery rhyme “Ring Around the Rosie” whenever I think of Ash Wednesday. Don’t know why. I just do.
In spite of what you may have heard, the rhyme has nothing to do with the Black Death. That was in the mid-1300s and no version of the rhyme seems to exist before the late 1800s and the lyrics are far to varied to have anything to do with sickness. Just FYI.
But, the juxtaposition of the two ideas, ashes and a plague, hand together this year more than most.
All the pastor’s groups I am in on social media are abuzz with the question “How are we going to do Ash Wednesday?” Which, I realize, is more of a big deal in those traditions that have practiced it steadily for centuries, as opposed to the hit-and-miss practices of Baptists. I have no plans for Ash Wednesday this year or even for Lent as such.
Lent is a time to reflect on our sinful nature, the nature of our fallen world, on humility before the Grace of God.
Not this year.
For the last 12 months I think we have all been beaten enough. We have all done without. We have all given things up.
So instead of giving things up for Lent, admit what you have lost over the last year. Take an inventory of every joy delayed or denied or diminished.
Make that list and then accept it. Accept it and make a decision that by the Grace of God we are moving on.
Take time for self care. Don’t beat yourself up about things that haven’t gotten done. Don’t rush to make up the time.
The Bible is constant in its message that people need to rest, that the world needs to rest.
Inactivity is not rest. The stress and pressures of the Pandemic have not made it restful at all.
For Lent this year try and give up the stress, the fear, the anxiety, and the loneliness if you can.
Easter morning is coming.