Time of Lent ~
Many in the world were baptized, touched with water, or perhaps oil, in a ritual to acknowledge our slick, wet entry into this world as part of the human family, which is of course a part of God's great family.
At Lent, as with many other rituals used by Humanity, ashes, charcoal or even mud are used to symbolize one's continued relationship with God or a Higher Power. The material is most often applied to the center of the forehead, symbolizing the ability to see in a new way, to see a new light. In the movie Kundun, the very young Dalai Lama is given ritual objects of great potency and he simply touches them to his forehead. In that moment you can feel that he too sees their light, their way.
This time of Lent has also to do with a time of sacrifice or giving up of something, an earthly pleasure or habit. This symbol, if truly understood, is a potent one. We sacrifice for the greater good, the whole, not for personal triumph over a bad habit. We align with God, the greater good is our goal, and that which no longer serves is sacrificed.
This ritual is about purification. At the same time of year, there is the Festival of Losar, the Tibetan new year. At this time one prepares for the coming new spiritual year. According to tradition, one cannot properly celebrate until one deals with the last year's unfinished business or unhappy memories ~ a spiritual house cleaning or purification. This is called the Gutor, where one cleans their house and makes offerings to chase away evil. A ritual dance is done which symbolizes the triumph of Good over Evil, and offerings are burnt.
In both great traditions the fire that creates the ash or the burnt offering which drives away evil is one of purification. Two great spiritual traditions, one Divine idea: could we all be in this together?
Yet it is not a time to rest, for God demands more than we be clean or relatively habit free. This work of purification only becomes meaningful when we use the energy now available to take the next step in our relationship with God or the Divine. The word repent is used in association with Lent; it means to turn, to go in a new way, to orient the self to the Greater Good, the whole. In doing this we do take the next step in our ever-evolving relationship with the Divine.
A thought came to me while I was discussing these very ideas with a group of monks: What if God needed Lent too! What if God too were challenged to turn, to take the next step on a Divine path. If this is a dynamic, living relationship, would not Humanity be a reflection of a Divine undertaking? I say this with all humility, but with an even greater joy, for in this grand relationship we and the Divine are learning to live and be in harmony with an even Greater Good.
Ah yes, we are all in this together ....
In 2021 Lent is generally observed from
Aries Festival Global Meditation