Ash Wednesday today. The trundle truck and I went up to the parish church this morning and I acquired the traditional dirty face with which to start Lent.
Traditionally Christians have used this time before Easter as a time of re-orienting their lives. It was the time of preparation for baptism and the whole church supported the new Christians by joining in with prayer, almsgiving and fasting. The fasting had nothing to do with getting into one’s summer clothes and everything to do with remembering God.
Fasting also gives rise to the modern idea of “giving something up for Lent”. The idea is that each time we drink a cup of tea without sugar, or say no to a drink, or feel hungry because the price of lunch has been donated to charity, our minds turn to Christ.
When I was a child it was always chocolate which was on hold for those six and a half weeks. These days chocolate is such a rare treat anyway that it wouldn’t make much difference. Maturity brings its own excesses and opportunities.
I cleaned my face after I left church this morning. And I started the reflective walk to Easter.