Today begins the season of Lent.
To be honest, I’ve kind of lost all concept of time this week. We’ve been home with only a couple hours of power here and there since Sunday like many of my friends and family across Texas. It definitely has been quite the experience marked by many, many layers of clothing. When this power thing works itself out, I’m gonna have SO much laundry to do!
Last year on Ash Wednesday, I wrote about how ashes are both a mark that symbolizes our shared, imperfect humanity and a mark that shows us we are not alone. It’s a mark that shows us we match. The first year my oldest received his ashes, in fact, that was the first thing he said to me: “Look, mommy, we match!”
It’s interesting to be home today and know that no one, at least through most of Texas, is going into churches right now receiving ashes. We will not be walking around town today acknowledging the visible sign of our unity. This has never happened before in my lifetime.
I saw on social media yesterday that someone made an ash filter – you know just in case being without that visible sign and your ash-selfie is just too weird. But aren’t there so many more visible signs of our unity present today even without the ashes?
We have all been in this pandemic for almost a year. We all have a bin or two of masks in our homes that weren’t there last year (but are proving super helpful during this winter snap). We have all learned new ways of working, teaching, and living. And right now in Texas and most of the US today, we are all universally very, very cold.
We are also all very done with all of it.
Beyond the masks, the pandemic, and the cold, there is another more subtle way we match. Right now, more than ever, we are all universally being called to help one another. We are universally being called to wear masks for the safety and health of others. We are also called almost daily to give what we can to support one another. In some cases, that’s money. In other cases, that’s firewood. Sometimes it’s just a call to say “Are you still doing okay?” Being called to give to one another is not new, but it’s never been so apparent to me before.
No matter what our differences are, we match in the way we need each other.
As I start Lent today without ashes and without power, I am, of course, praying for everyone in Texas to make it through this week. But I’m also praying for each of us, that we celebrate how we match today by helping one another in whatever way we can.