Lent begins this year on February 10, as it always does, with Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday is a day reminding us of our mortality, our sin, our penitence…but most importantly, of God’s forgiveness and grace.
This year, though, with Lent beginning so early, I am especially reminded of how dark and cold and alone the world can feel. Lent often begins with a reading or meditation on Jesus in the wilderness.
Mark’s description of this is, like almost all of Mark, short and to the point. Jesus had just been baptized in the Jordan by John. And then: “the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts and the angels waited on him.” (Mark 1:12-13) When we teach this story to young children, we ask “wondering” questions about this:
I wonder what it is like to be alone in the desert for such a long time….?
I wonder what Jesus and God talked about in the desert…?
I wonder if it was hard for Jesus to say “no” to the evil one…?
The children are not to answer out loud, rather they are to wonder about these things deep in their hearts, because the mystery of God in Christ is not a puzzle to be solved, but rather a grace to be received with gratitude.
I have some wonderings of my own:
When you feel most alone, how do you notice and remember God?
Have you ever had a time when you felt you were in a wilderness?
What was it like to be among both wild beasts and angels?
Lent is described as a journey of 40 days. May we find our way through this journey of Lent to the joy of Easter.