As a reality check, lent is a season to remember the facts. There is the fact that I am made from love and from dust, and to love and to dust shall I return. This first fact is recalled by literally imprinting dust on the forehead on Ash Wednesday in the form of a cross. Made from the burn palms of last year's Palm Sunday, the blessed ashes are worn all that day, until washed away with the day's grime. With the ashes the celebration of Mardi Gras falls silent.
Lent is not about giving up. It is about searching. It is about repairing. It is about washing. It is about weeping. It is about finding.
Ash Wednesday, developed as a day of penitence to mark the beginning of lent, is a particular time for new beginnings in the faith, a time of returning to the Lord. On Ash Wednesday we recall our mortality and wait upon the Lord for a renewing Spirit. This is a time for putting aside the sins and failures of the past in the light of who we are yet to become by the grace of God. Ash Wednesday emphasizes a dual encounter - we confront our own mortality and confess our sins before God.
Let us pray: Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who repent. Create and make in us new and honest hearts, that we may obtain the healing power of your forgiveness. In Jesus' name. Amen.