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Ash Wednesday: The Freedom of Ritual – Shawna R. B. Atteberry
Feb 262009
 

Today was not a good day. In fact, I’ve been out of sorts most of this month. Mainly because I have not been writing as this blog makes very obvious. I really did not want to go to the Ash Wednesday service. I feel enough guilt and shame. I know that I “have sinned by my own fault. . .by what I have done, and by what I have left undone.” Especially the what I have left undone. Do I really need an additional reminder about what I should be doing that I’m not? Really? But I had to go: I was bringing bread for the soup and bread dinner after the service, and I knew I needed to be there.

I’m very glad I went. As we were praying the Litany of Penitence, I felt a great peace come over me, and I acknowledged that I was a human and that means that I am going to fail, make mistakes, and even choose outright rebellion to what God has called me to do, which is to say, sin. It was not only a peaceful, but humbling thing, to admit that “From dust I have come and to dust I will return”; to confess my sins with my fellow brothers and sisters and accept God’s forgiveness. It was also a recognition that I am not the only one falling short of God’s calling. We, as a community, have fallen short. I could feel the forgiveness not just for myself, but for our community, as prayed. Tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow I can say yes to God. Tomorrow we can obey God and better build God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

I have decided what my Lenten disciplines will be this year: I am going to practice centering prayer, and I’m going to write in this blog. My 40 days of Lent will be spent in quiet with God and talking to you.

Also stop by Haraka Haraka Haina Baraka where Mark shared his Ash Wednesday experience. (And yes, you will find the translation for his blog name if you go and read.)

For those interested in praying the Daily Office, the Episcopal nuns of Mission St. Clare have everything you need including karaoke versions of chants and hymns. I also post Vespers Monday–Friday at Street Prophets.

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (From The Book of Common Prayer.)

Related Posts:

Ash Wednesday Reflections
Lenten Disciplines: Fasting

Lenten Thoughts and Practices

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  2 Responses to “Ash Wednesday: The Freedom of Ritual”

  1. Rejoicing with you, Shawna! What a wonderful Ash Wednesday you had (mine as too, though Blogger would let me write about it last night).

    I am awed by the thought of taking on not one but two periods of centering a day–may they be very blessed. And I am looking forward to reading more here.

  2. Even when I was practicing centering prayer regularly I only did it once a day, so the twice a day thing is going to be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to seeing what God is going to do.

    I’m looking forward to more writing here. I have to get over the “I have nothing to say” mentality, and there’s only one way to do that: write!

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