Posted by: Karen (Betty Bear) | February 14, 2013

So, Lent . . .

Warning, y’all: this is one of those thoughtful, religious posts I come out with sometimes and it’s mostly about being a Christian.

Growing up, we never observed Lent. I only knew of it from my Catholic friends and knew that it involved giving up chocolate for what seemed like forever. Somehow, I didn’t think it was for me. I still find the giving up chocolate or something you like kind of, um, not exactly silly, but kind of pointless. I mean, if the whole idea is preparation, penitence and prayer for Easter, spending 40 days yearning for chocolate seems distracting from the real purpose. But maybe that’s just me.

In a larger sense, we can all use a time of reflection, a time to think about the purpose of our lives and whether we are fulfilling that purpose or not. In that way Lent isn’t just for Christians. Or at least the concept of the time of reflection isn’t just for Christians. In that spirit, I’m taking a Lenten study at church for the next few weeks, called The Hole in our Gospel. From what I’ve read so far, and discussed so far, it seems to be addressing how we can put into action the call to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and comfort the sick. We talked about making sacrifices, and what sacrifices are we called to make. I threw out the idea that our sacrifices don’t need to be necessarily sell the house, sell all my possessions and move me and my family to Africa to minister to AIDS victims. We make a sacrifice every time we choose to take two hours to take a legally blind person grocery shopping, we choose to give up a family dinner to make dinner and eat with the homeless families being housed at our church, we choose to give up a Saturday to go shovel sand out of someone’s house from hurricane Sandy. I do believe that and I also believe that if we all gave up everything and followed Christ, no one would be left to grow the food, make the clothes, diaper the babies, research the medicine, etc. etc. BUT, what I don’t know is where is the line? Should I stay in my comfortable house and spend the money to build that lovely sun room, deck and patio or was I supposed to sacrifice that? I just don’t know. Some days I think I’m a good person and then there are days I think I’m a parasitic twit. The truth probably lies somewhere in between. Food for thought, though.

A friend posted a link to this on Facebook for Ash Wednesday, and I thought it was so lovely I thought I’d put it in here. I’ve linked the title to the original post.

Blessing the Dust

All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners

or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—

Did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?

This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.

This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.

This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.

So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are

but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made,
and the stars that blaze
in our bones,
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.




  1. Beautifully worded, Karen. I’ve been thinking about some of the same things. I checked the link on the poem, and they’re doing an online Lenten retreat this year, I might try that out.

    • Thank you. I was thinking of you as I wrote this, knowing that your mind goes in some of the same directions.

  2. I agree with Barb, beautiful.
    A lovely post and a lovely blessing. Thank you.

    (FYI, that sunroom is well earned, and you deserve it.)

  3. What a wonderful post, Karen! I may have to rethink my feelings about Lent. Though I haven’t been a believer, much less a Christian for many years, I still see the value of a time of introspection and redirection.

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