From dust to dawn: my reflections as Lent begins

Hand with ashes

Hand with ashesThere is something—a practice, a way of praying, a letting go, a new dependence, a gift you need to give—that will bring you closer to God.

What is it?

Lent is the time to ask this question. Then it gives you 40 days to change, to prepare and to open your heart to the Lord.

Of all the Christian seasons, Lent is my most beloved. It demands a stripping of pretense. It reduces the indulgent bloat of my life into a lean and meaningful structure.

I started practicing Lent wholeheartedly four years ago. My mother and brother had died within five months of each other. I knew the feel of a life reduced to ashes in my hand. I lived in the agony of raw loss. How could the world continue on? And yet it did.

Its regularity and continuation also offered a vague comfort. It didn’t matter that some days I only went through the motions. The momentum of the world carried me along with it. Stores stayed open and sold grapes. I bought them. My family had needs. I met them.

The start of Lent with the imposition of ashes on the forehead with the words of you are dust, and to dust you shall return reminds us to relinquish the unnecessary and devote our full power to loving.

Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!”

Peter loved his teacher. He promised that he would love him and give his life. Every time I hear the story I want Peter to do better. This time! Let him be true to his word and live up to his promise. Let him be a loyal friend. But he fails. He fails to love as well as he should.

We fail to love as well as we should. But shouldn’t we keep trying? Before we return, shouldn’t we throw open our arms and hug one another while we can?


Lord, we think so often of ourselves.
Bless us with reminders of how our greatness
turns to dust,

Bless us with reminders of how the love we nurture lives on.

A woman with a generous spirit treasured her friends
and handed out her abundance: time, affection and baby aloe plants.
Her friends took her plants and passed them on.

I did not know her, but I received a plant from one of her friends.
From a tiny plant the size of my finger, it became 24 hand-sized plants in less than two years.
This Sunday, I repotted them so they can stretch out and keep multiplying.

Lord, let our acts of love thrive in your light.
From one small act, make it grow to 24. Then 240, then 2,400,
then so many acts of love we lose count.

After we return, let us be remembered
for our friendship, our faith and our love.
And if we’re not remembered, may we leave something good behind—encouragement,
a smile to soften someone’s hard day,
a gleaming green plant growing toward the light.

Before we return, make us doers of uncountable kindnesses.

Tell me your thoughts!

What act of kindness can you perform today that might be multiplied tomorrow? What have you chosen as a practice for this Lent? If you are local to Columbia or Moberly, would you like an aloe plant? 😀

12 thoughts on “From dust to dawn: my reflections as Lent begins

  1. Thank you for the Lenten reflection and sharing your stories of how you got through a personal time when you felt engulfed in volcanic ash clouds. Even though I’m not much of a formal religious person, I embrace the lessons as they can relate to our presence in the natural world and its cycles of death and rebirth.

    1. Wonderful! I feel Facebook can tempt us to focus on the trivial; that is an inspiring Lenten practice she is doing. Thank you for your comment, and many blessings for your Lent.

  2. Whew. SO many profound phrases in this week’s entry: “a gift you need to give” (always good to be reminded that this exists); “the indulgent bloat of my life” (ugh, how convicting, how true); “so many acts of love we lose count” (what better prayer is there to pray?)

    Looking forward to this purposeful Lent, thanks to your reflection.

  3. Beautiful post, Gen! A sweet reminder of the joy of giving. Thank you for giving your blessings to us.

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