Ash Wednesday: In the Wilderness…Again

We’re at Ash Wednesday again, and I haven’t really had time to think much about it today. The babies went down early for bed tonight, but I still meandered aimlessly around the house – feeling like I was forgetting something or intentionally trying to find the one plastic ball missing (I call it the Easter Egg) from a collection of five. That one goes missing often, and I often feel a little OCD about finding those little things. I finally gave up again and am sitting, and trying to be quiet.

I’m thinking again about how I want to approach this time of wilderness. It feels much different on this side of momhood, so I want to embrace that, but I also want to give myself some room, too. I know I want to pick up Katie Mulligan’s discipline of an art journal for this season but maybe combine it with the discipline of writing poetry, and to hit up some favorite blogs including Mama:Monk and Thin Paper Vault (a friend from seminary – we were in touring choir together – and I’m hoping she’ll have some great readings like she did during Advent). I’ll keep up reading poetry from Poetry 180 weekly, and musing on it.

I’m encouraged by Landon Whitsitt’s reflection on “sacrifice” during Lentto refocus my inner self not on how “I am weak and a failure,” but how much I need God. It’s a subtle difference, and maybe connected, but the first intention seems consistent with the effort to deny oneself of chocolate, beer, Facebook, or whatever. I like how Landon framed it in terms of focusing on our dependence on God. And, anyways let’s be honest here, for many, I think the temptation to forgo chocolate or beer might have the hidden agenda of losing weight. I’m certainly guilty of that in the past. (But that’s not to say that fasting is a futile discipline, but it’s so wrapped up in a cultural emphasis on body-image that I wonder if it’s lost its efficacy. Perhaps a post for another time).

That emphasis on dependence is certainly not lost on me. The babies depend on me. Andy depends on me. Ellis depends on me to let her out so she can do her business. And so many others are dependent on me (friends, family, etc.). But, I get so caught up on being dependable that I forget I am mostly tired, empty, and just as needy. In some ways the text for today feels appropriate:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I appreciate that this text isn’t focusing so much on what the treasure is, but where. That feels significant. This season, I want to focus on the where and pour all that I am into that space, because I need it. I need to be filled, and the place for it is in the wilderness.