Whistling winds awoke me out of a deep sleep early this Ash Wednesday morning. Outside my bedroom window the snow swirled. Fresh snow had covered the tracks on the deck below where only yesterday squirrels had scampered. The weather forecasters were indeed again correct as overnight an additional 1-2 inches were added to the 10 inches of snow that fell on Monday, thanks to snowstorm Octavia. An unusual sight to see in southern Kentucky for sure!
Growing up, Ash Wednesday held no spiritual significance for me as the church where I grew up didn’t mark its observance. I vaguely remember classmates leaving school and returning with smudges on their foreheads. Well that and their comments they couldn’t wait for Easter so they could break their abstaining from chocolate, coke or sweets. Back then, even as a kid, I remember thinking that the practice was odd and disconnected from what Jesus’ work of salvation really meant for all of humanity.
Happily, as an adult, my understanding of Ash Wednesday and the spiritual practice of observing Lent deepened. After participating in Ash Wednesday services with the smudges on my forehead and observing the 40 days of Lent I now understand this ancient Christian practice as a way to intentionally prepare my heart, mind, and soul for Easter…to draw closer to God. Some years I observed Lent while other years I did not.
As I continue to grow and follow Jesus, this year I felt my heart drawing me to observe Lent with more intentionality in preparation for Easter. Just as winter reflects the coldness and hardness of its season, preparation for growth is already taking place underneath a foot of snow! Soon, new growth will emerge in the upcoming weeks. So too, new growth with emerge from my soul as I tend to and prepare the hard edges of my soul with God’s Word during this Lenten season.
My desire to intentionally mark the 40 days of Lent coincided when I came across this resource that Naptime Diaries created. I quickly ordered mine! I am beyond thrilled to begin using this resource today. Although the bound books have sold out, you can still hop over to download a PDF to print for yourself.
For me, this Lenten season, I will definitely be adding to my spiritual practices to draw nearer to God. Do you observe Lent? If so, How do you observe Ash Wednesday and Lent? Is Lent more about denying yourself during the 40 days or adding a practice to draw you closer to God? Join the conversation in the comments section below!