Wednesday was Ash Wednesday. It was the first day of Lent but also the day we buried my uncle. These were my thoughts as we journeyed north for the funeral.
In a strange way this makes some simple sense to me. As we go into a time of fasting and sacrifice (in many variable and impressive ways) we are also entering a day of grieving for a member of our family. Donning black feels like ashes, we return my uncle to the ground, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. We mourn and we cry and we remember.
But Ash Wednesday this year also is one representing generosity. The 40 Acts campaign encourages taking part in a selection of challenges, inconvenient and potentially self-sacrificial challenges, which are intended to giving out love rather than giving up chocolate or the usual.
So today I made a list of things I could give: time, space, skills, etc. What struck me was that today what people need from me is likely prayer, hugs, to be listened to, and possibly baby cuddles.
Sometimes giving is that simple. Sometimes what we need to give is ourselves. In a time of grief, complex and confusing, surely anything else might be too much? Today is about reflection; on the one hand in the way we think about life, death and the choices we make, but also in trying to reflect a bit of Jesus into a hard situation. I tiny bit more love, a smudge more joy, an ounce more comfort.
This Lenten season I have a feeling God is leading me deeper, both in time with Him, but also time with others. Really getting involved with humanity is hard, but God took on incarnation to love us exactly where we are, covered in ashes, crying out to what feels like pitch darkness, showing us the light.
If you would like to start the 40 acts for Lent do have a look at their website. You can sign up and receive email notifications each day with a range of challenges depending on how busy you might be.