He went a little farther on, threw himself face downward on the ground, and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want."
~ Matthew 26:39
I understand why we celebrate the day before Ash Wednesday the way we do. It's as if we are aware that something is about to change, and we fill our life with all that we can in order to avoid the reality.
This morning I sat with a family and listened as they shared about their mother. "She was just at church on Sunday, and we have plans to go visit family next month. We just didn't expect her to be like this today."
I get it. Lent is a time in the life of the church, and our own personal journey, when we realize that everything can change in a moment.
Lent is a journey inward, and is marked by ashes. It is the outward sign for others to know our condition.
You might say it's the symptom to our diagnosis.
I remember the first time the dosctor told me, "I think it might be cancer." I suddenly felt different, and my mind went to a different place.
As I plan to place ashes on the foreheads of friends and coworkers tomorrow, I recognize that the words, "From dust you were created, and to dust you shall return," are the words of the diagnosis. None of us are immune to the reality that at some point our mortality will be overcome by eternity.
Lent is the time that we are given the opportunity to consider what we would like for our life, or for that matter, our spiritual journey, to look like. The ashes and the words spoken are God's way of reminding us that things will be different, and that we are being called to a higher calling by reflecting and changing our paths.
While we celebrate, and eat, attend parties, and throw beads, we are hoping to somehow avoid tomorrow. I am reminded that even Christ went off and prayed that the cup being prepared, the events that were about to unfold, might pass by him. In Christ's humanity, the dust that he possessed would at some point no longer hold the plan that God had for all of humanity, including you and I.
There is something about to change. Are you ready?
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2018
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.