I went for ash at a nearby parish which was a short walk from my building, like I had done the last 3 years. There was this pair of ladies on the church stoop with a camera on a tripod, and I was curious but had secretly hoped they wouldn’t stop me for whatever it was they wanted to ask. But stop me, they did.
They were doing market research and putting together a documentary in the process, and would I be willing to answer a few questions about Ash Wednesday for a talent fee of $10. I don’t know what made me sign the release form pronto, but I said yes, took off my shades, and waited as they got set up with the rest of New York walking past me. I was lucky that it was a sidestreet and not a main thoroughfare, but this being New York City, the traffic was pretty brisk during the lunch hour.
From the first question of what is Ash Wednesday to whether or not the Pope’s admonition about Ash Wednesday brought me here (and no, it did not — I go for my ash whoever the sitting pope is) — I’m glad I took the time to answer the questions, because it was a reaffirmation of what I have grown up to believe all my life about my religious leaning.
Like all other surveys and interviews, there is that question that sticks with you: “How would you define faith?” And spontaneously, I replied, “It’s believing in something or someone, a higher power or being even if you cannot see Him or physically feel him.”
That is the kind of faith that I am trying to teach my son, and it’s a kind of faith that you cannot give to someone if you don’t have it in your heart.
I did a Lenten fast yesterday which was rare and not easy for me, but I made it through the day with a few slices of bread and water. At night, I made do without the meat and had grilled cheese. For the season, I’m trying to give up red meat. So far, so good.
This Lenten season is more solemn to me for many reasons, and I want to make the most of this season or repentance and renewal and flesh out my relationship with God. Faith has always been a very personal aspect of my existence, and while I wear my faith on my sleeve literally, what goes on and what I think and say to Him stays between Him and me.
I am also trying to find the courage to forgive and to not let anger or pain crowd my heart. It is not easy but I know it is the only way to find my way to inner peace and calm. I try to be more introspective now, thinking before I say or do something — and reminding myself of what is right and just according to His word. I am trying. I am praying.
The past few months have seen me feeling closer to my God and I have never been more reassured of His presence in my life than at this time. I feel blessed.
I wish you all the blessing of that kind of presence and reassurance, and hope that the Lenten season will find you having a closer and more meaningful releationship with Him.