Life has been a little crazy the last week or so. I apologize to everyone that may have been looking for something to read on here! I took a little tumble when I hit a patch of ice heading into work on Wednesday morning resulting in a pretty sore body for the past few days. I am actually still waiting for the bruising to show up. Luckily a friendly client found me laying in the parking lot, so all was well.
Wednesday as many of you may know was also Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent in the Christian calendar. If you are not familiar with the day or the season, I will share a little bit of history with you.
Ash Wednesday, as the first day of Lent, is a day when it is customary to attend services and have ashes placed on your forehead in the shape of a cross. The ashes are usually made from the burning of the palm branches from the Holy Week the year previous. This is to symbolize the sins that we carry, but that through the resurrection we are redeemed. There is no mistake that Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday are right before Ash Wednesday, that is the celebration of excess before a time of sacrifice, repentance, and contemplation.
Traditionally, in the Roman Catholic Church (one perspective, I hope you will share others), Lent, the 40 days not including Sundays before Easter, is a time for fasting and restrictions. It is common for people to fast on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during Lent, as well as abstaining from eating meat from land animals. In Wisconsin, Lent is the land of Friday Fish Fries. Lots and lots of fish. It is also common for people to “give up” something for Lent as an offering to God. Many people chose something that is not a real hardship which defeats the purpose. I admit it, I have been guilty of this. As a child, I would “give up” soda, exercising, eating liver and onions (which I despise), or some other non-issue item. As I got older, I began to understand that the true reason is to sacrifice something for God, to remove something from your life that is preventing or impeding your relationship with Him. I have recently run across “40 Days of Happiness” (some have modified to positivity). The goal is to remove negativity and instead find joy and happiness in each day. It does not mean you have to be positive and happy 100% of the time, but it is to make an effort to seek out God each and every day and find solace in Him. I like this idea, it is what the season of Lent is about: becoming closer to God, preparing your heart, mind, soul, and body for the gift of salvation.
I pray that you will have a reflective Lenten season and that you are prepared for the celebration of the resurrection in just 6 short weeks! I also pray that spring comes sooner rather than later. Stay safe as the snow begins to melt and patches of ice are hidden!
Please share your traditions, I love to learn what others do or help people to understand the whos, whats, wheres, and whys of life!
As you know, I am not religious, however I applaud any person or tradition that makes efforts to make the world a kinder, happier place. I like the idea of personal reflection and finding happiness in every day. Nice post Melanie.
Melissa – You make me smile and every time I hear from you the world is a more positive place! I miss you!