Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of our journey through Lent towards Holy Week. It is a time to reflect on our relationships as we seek ways to turn back to God. These days also remind us of Jesus and his 40 days of testing or temptation in the desert. For many of us it is a time to refrain from something, “to give up something for Lent.”
Have you done this lately? Sometimes the practice turns into a second chance at tackling the New Year’s resolution made so many weeks ago. “This time…I’ll give up sweets, or cake, or bread, or meat, or _____.” In years past I would give up Diet Coke. I did this for three reasons. First, the fact that I drank Diet Coke in place of drinking water led me to realize that I was addicted to it. Second, I knew it was bad for me. And last, I really enjoyed it. Maybe it was the few years of this practice that led me to eventually quit drinking the beverage altogether, as I haven’t had a Diet Coke since April (2015), when one day I decided that it just didn’t taste good. Enough of that though (until April).
So this year I am doing two things for Lent, giving something up and adding another. First, I’ve decided to quit following politics for the time of Lent. Of course I’ll still know what’s going on, but I won’t be reading any of the stories or looking at my favorite political sites on the web. I’m thinking that this just might be good for my soul.
My second activity relates to the title of this post. I found the photo that you see here, “Lent Photo a Day” and plan to find a photo each day to match the theme word. Today’s word is gather. As I think about it there is so much that can be done with this word. On Ash Wednesday I think of gathering for worship and of gathering the supplies needed to offer ashes all day in front of the church. These were not my first thoughts though.
The first thought that came to mind was gathering of family and friends. A fresh and special memory is of running the Surf City Marathon last Sunday. It was a good race for me (I will write about it in another post). What made it special was that my husband, son, and daughter all ran the race, while her husband and two very good friends joined us for the weekend.
As I reflected, I remembered times past when my family gathered. Those are precious memories that I will always treasure. At the same time though, I remember that our family gatherings almost always involved sitting around a table and eating lots of very good and very fattening food. Sharing our time together always meant sharing food. Of course there is nothing wrong or even different about this. But if the gathering is all about eating and sitting it is not always so good for one’s health.
For me, and my immediate family, we’ve changed this a bit, so that we gather together to run. We’ve run races together and we’ll run more together. We go to track workouts together, and Saturday runs together. And after these, we eat! Because gathering to eat is still a family pastime, now though we run first!
What about you, what photo does the word gather inspire?