Freaking Out

It is Ash Wednesday. I’ve been busy getting ready for this day. I gathered ashes, readings and prayers. I purchased flash paper for a really awesome moment to release our sins in worship. I made handouts for those that will receive ashes on the corner of the park downtown this afternoon. I made bulletins. I am ready. Except that I’m not really ready.

Somehow, in all of these preparations, I forgot to prepare my own heart to enter into this holy season of Lent. And it was Facebook that pointed out this mistake. Facebook!? I’m humiliated. My clergy colleagues in the 2030 Clergy Network have been talking over these past few days about their spiritual disciplines for Lent. I just noticed it today — which led to the moment of panic. Holy crap! What am I doing for Lent?! What part of me needs resurrection? How do I need to be reminded not only to love God and my neighbor? There was a little more profanity in these spoken prayers to God this morning. I’m pretty sure my neighbors officially think I’m nuts — but these prayers are heartfelt and real.

I do not have an answer to these questions. I don’t know what practice I’ll take on this season mostly because I’m not sure what I need. As my colleague Emily C. Heath would wisely point out, it’s not about me. And she’s so right. It’s not. I love that about Lent. I love its reminder that I am human. I am nothing more or less than my own humanity. God will be God and it is my choice to embrace that powerful mystery. Somedays I’m better at it than others. Today, it seems, I’m not sure what to do with it. And it’s that mystery that I want to experience come Easter morning. I want to be reminded in my body and soul that this is the God that loves me, redeems me and sets me free. I’m just not quite sure how to do that.

I already know that I’ll be reading 40 Days of Howard Thurman with my congregation. I think this will be really awesome and quite powerful as the whole church does it together. But, it doesn’t answer my question. It doesn’t engage the question I’ve been asking for so long. On Easter, I will turn 34. It is birthday. (As I’ve told the church, I will not make it all about me.) And, this year has been really hard. It’s been hard to be the age that my mother died. I am still not sure what it means to outlive her. Though I have lots of dreams, there is still a big part of me that that feels like I’m on borrowed time. And so, even though I know it’s not about me, even I know that God has got it covered, I need to figure out how to live into the unknown marked by my 34th birthday. For today, it may be enough to just allow myself the space to freak out and admit to God and my neighbor: I am dust and to dust I will return. 

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