Beginnings: Ash Wednesday

“One cannot begin to face the real difficulties of the life of prayer and meditation unless one is first perfectly content to be a beginner and really experience himself as one who know little or nothing and has a desperate need to learn the bare rudiments.”

Beginning Lent as a beginner takes a conscious effort.  I was raised on a steady diet of the Passion and resurrection, so I took little time to meditate in it deeply because I knew it so well.  Or so I thought.

Today as I contemplate my dusty beginning and my coming ashy end, I’m hoping to start this Lenten season with green belief.   I’m asking what it means to really pray and meditate through Lent, which means I’m asking what it means to really pray and meditate at all.

Consider starting this season at square 1?  Consider the readings as if they are fresh-baked?  Consider the Passion and resurrection with unreached ears?

Welcome to Ash Wednesday, 2012.  It’s a good day to start from the dust.

“We do not want to be beginners.  But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners.”

*All quotes taken from Thomas Merton, Contemplative Prayer.

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3 Responses to Beginnings: Ash Wednesday

  1. Amy says:

    Thanks Seth — It’s Ash Wednesday night in China, but this will be good to read before bed.

  2. J.Ray says:

    90’s pop plays over the speakers in the downtown Portland coffee shop. Demands conspire to keep me from a place of participating in a formal Lenten service, so I center into the words of scripture as they appear on a screen, quiet my heart and rub a few spent tea leaves between my fingers as I pray. They are not ashes, but like ashes, have been used up, wrung out, leeched of life and flavor. Slowly I will try and let the cross emerge from their residue onto my heart, even if their mark is not visible on my skin.

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