Why 40 days ? ( not including Sundays)40 is a significant number in Jewish-Christian scripture:
- In Genesis, the flood which destroyed the earth was brought about by 40 days and nights of rain.
- The Hebrews spent 40 years in the wilderness before reaching the land promised to them by God.
- Moses fasted for 40 days before receiving the ten commandments on Mount Sinai.
- Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness in preparation for his ministry.
Today is Ash Wednesday and it's time again to stand before the priest, who dips his thumb into the blessed ashes and I get a whopper of a mark on my forehead with the sign of the cross as a symbol of mortality, sorrow for sins, change, and forgiveness.
The season of Lent is a time of
contemplation and of preparation.
We take an inventory of our spiritual
state and prepare a place in
our hearts to welcome the risen
Lord at Easter.
I hear the phrase“Remember, O man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return.” or it could be “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel,” or even “Repent, and hear the Good News.”
The Lent season has been a time for self-examination and penitence before Easter for many centuries.
The day also comes from the Saxon lengten-tide, referring to the lengthening of the days and the coming of spring in the northern hemisphere.
The ashes used are made by burning the remains of the palms blessed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year.
Jesus 's life was marked by a rhythm of walking and talking with crowds and then retreating to a desert place.
In Lent we detach in order to clarify and connect more profoundly - that is why retereating from over stimulation needs a renewed commitment to prayer and meditation, ways in which we clarify the world within and reduce the noise so that we can hear the voice of conscience.
Lent is always a time for seeing our evasions, the addictive ways in which we hide from our truths, our frailty, our mortality, our meaness and worse.
We detach in order to confront these realities to see better so we can live better. We are not immortal gods, but mortal humans, as the ashes remind us. Jesus speaks not to condemn but to walk with us on a new path still dirty with dust from the desert.
This video with the beautiful contemplative chant of Taize music below offer a visual meditation of a few profound truths, igniting self awareness, provoking thought, offering perspective, and inviting the Spirit of Christ into our hearts this Ash Wednesday.