Sackcloth and ashes
Lent starts tomorrow. Lent, as you know, is a forty-day period of repentance and reflection leading up to Easter.
The length is symbolic of Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness just before his temptation.
Before we plunge in, here is some food for thought from our old friend Fred Buechner:
During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves.
-If you had to bet everything you have on whether there is a God or whether there isn’t, which side would get your money and why?
-When you look at your face in the mirror, what do you see in it that you most like and what do you see in it that you most deplore?
-If you had only one last message to leave to the handful of people who are most important to you, what would it be in twenty-five words or less?
-Of all the things you have done in your life, which is the one you would most like to undo? Which is the one that makes you happiest to remember?
-Is there any person in the world, or any cause, that, if circumstances called for it, you would be willing to die for?
-If this were the last day of your life, what would you do with it?
To hear yourself try to answer questions like these is to begin to hear something not only of who you are but of both what you are becoming and what you are failing to become. It can me a pretty depressing business all in all, but if sackcloth and ashes are at the start of it, something like Easter may be at the end.
—Whistling in the Dark
If nothing else, Buechner reminds us that our lives are important and that we must take them seriously. It is a good thing to take these forty days and practice some introspection. Times a-wastin’!