For me Lent is about emptying–a glass, a basket, a soul–so that it can be filled up again…with wine (or sparkling cider), peeps (think Easter basket), and hope. The forty days before Easter is one big humbling exercise–where you remind yourself that without God, you’re nothing but a pile of cinders.
“Don’t kid yourselves, guys,” this liturgical season says. “Everything you have become and anything you have accomplished (i.e. your resume) is courtesy of the dude upstairs.”
Wearing ashes on your forehead is supposed to have the same effect as, say, an author showing up to her book signing at Borders expecting millions of fans, only to see two people–her 85-year-old running partner and his wife–in the forty chairs set up for the event.
This holy Wednesday is about remembering the beauty of “the nothing,” as St. John of the Cross describes in his poem “Nada”:
So as to taste the best
learn to taste of nothing
So as to own all
let go of everything
So as to become who you are
walk away from yourself
So as to become wise
forget all you ever knew
So as to arrive at where you are not
you must walk the path of a nobody