Rev. Sean over at his "ministrare" blog had a very beautiful post about Ash Wednesday. As we enter Lent, I have to confess something: Lent has always mystified me.
I can remember as a child, that I had friends who observed Lent, and my response was always confusion then. I didn't know what it was, what it symbolized, what one did and why, what it meant. Even when children tried to explain it to me, I just reacted with a sort of deep confusion: why would anyone do that?
I know the answers to those things now, but some of the mystery still surrounds it. If I was asked to do an Ash Wednesday service now, my response would be as much confusion as I experienced during my hospital chaplaincy during seminary when I was asked to give communion to a Catholic. I don't know the words, the order, the ritual. I think any Ash Wednesday service I did would be hollow and fake. For me, perhaps, it would be cultural borrowing to attempt such a thing. One could say I have the credentials, being raised by Christians, being baptized a Christian, yet for me it is so much more foreign than a Passover seder, for example. I have never been to an Ash Wednesday service, for starters.
Coming to this church, several UUs told me that they observe Lent. It's worth noting that all of them are not Christian UUs, either. And I suppose I can understand the spiritual purpose of giving something up for a period, particularly something one considers a vice or an indulgence. However, I'm personally more likely to do it in some other format or at some other time than in conjunction with this holiday that I just feel I have absolutely no connection to.
For those of you observing Lent, my blessings with you on that spiritual journey. As for myself, my spiritual practice is likely to continue to take other forms.