‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ’
These sombre words, spoken during the ceremony of the imposition of ashes, mark the beginning of the season we call Lent. Lent is a time for new beginnings, in preparation for the greatest new beginning of all, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are all called to share in Christ’s Resurrection.
Lent is important because it invites us to make time and mental space for God. It is not meant to be a season of self punishment, or of gloom and regret, but of letting go of the attitudes and desires which make it difficult for us to hear and experience God. Experiencing God is what is most important.
So the challenge of Lent consists of ‘letting go’, rather than ‘giving up’, letting go of those attitudes of mind and heart which make it difficult for us to know God at the deepest level of our being. It is not just a matter of giving up food and drink, although being in control of what we eat and drink can make for better physical and mental health. Letting go is about letting go of anxiety.
Anxiety causes tension and tension is a barrier to receiving God’s healing and forgiveness. Lent is a time for letting go of whatever is going on inside our heads and hearts which makes it difficult for us to experience God’s forgiveness and healing and the forgiveness and healing which others may be offering us.