Two years. Two years ago, on Ash Wednesday, I was serving as a pastor – designing, gathering leaders, and leading a service. This year? I participated as a member, virtually. Alone. At home.
So weird. And so unexpected. And so vastly different.
And – I never observed Lent until my husband and I married just under 20 years ago – it wasn’t part of the churches I grew up in.
The whiplash of early 2020’s changes in my life, before COVID hit, put me into a numb space regarding spiritual practices like Lent. I attended an Ash Wednesday service at a local Episcopalian church here in New Mexico (just a couple of weeks after getting here) – it was meaningful, deep, and moving – yet I was not surrounded by beloved friends or parishioners or family. That holy space was a reminder that rugged individualism is not The Way, but community is.
And – fine tuning my life’s rhythm’s to that of God’s also takes solitude. That lesson was (and is) difficult for this extrovert.
So … today, I set up a personal sacred space. I Zoomed into my church’s service. I imposed ashes (a cool temporary tattoo) on my hand. I held my wooden labyrinth closely and “walked” it as the service offered a few songs that brought back deeply meaningful memories of my ministry as a pastor. For a handful of moments, it felt right. It felt good. It felt real.
And – I asked God – what must I let go to become who I am created to be? What must I let go to be in tandem with Your heartbeat? What must I let go so we can jitterbug without thinking, enjoying the dance, enjoying the music, enjoying being together? What must I let go to “loose the bonds of injustice, undo the thongs of the yoke, the let the oppressed go free?” (Isaiah 58:6)
What must I let go of as I embrace this new vocational calling You led me to just over a year ago?
My hope for these next 40 days is that in the stillness of knowing God (Psalm 46:10) in this solitary/communal trek, I will simply let go and welcome the Holy.