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It's ashes to ashes, dust to dust day

That's not code talk. Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the 40 days of Lent. I like to think of this time as the season to turn. It's a time to pause, get quiet, and recognize areas in my life that have gone sideways and could perhaps use some shifting, some "turning."

For those of you who are really into this kind of thing--the invitation to be introspective--you'll get psyched when I mention the concept of Lent being a time to choose freedom from in order to find freedom for.

Or, more simply, how about just moving from anything that might feel "off" and move toward some semblance of what might feel "alright"? As a grieving mother, there are days when it's a little hard to tell the difference. Here I am again--back to the "both/and" instead of the "either/or." It's just one of the myriad of things that'll never be the same since my son Chad died.

Now before I get into this too deeply, please understand that I am fully aware that no one (or no institution) is telling me I should feel bad during Lent. Nothing is shaking a fist at me saying, "You messed up."

It's just that this little Lenten journey of reflection brings up harder stuff than it used to. Before Chad died, it was garden variety stuff: Change my prayer habits. No problem. Be less judgmental. Check. Stop getting snarky with waitresses and cashiers. I can do that.

But now, ever since he died, the call to pause and reflect can, at times, send me reeling into the darkest nights of the soul--my soul--where it doesn't matter that the days are getting longer, or that it's Lent, or that I'm searing myself alive with all this heavy introspection.

What matters is that I sometimes go to places in my mind that don't serve me--where regrets about how I mothered hang heavy, and guilt over what I could or should have done feels oppressive. Next comes anxiety. What if something happens to my living son? What if he dies? (It could happen ya know... it happened to Chad.) What if we can't figure out our new relationship now that our family is minus one and nothing, not anything, looks the same? Note to reader: This is how it goes in the heart of a grieving mother--Lent or no Lent.

And none of this fits into my dreamy and ambitious hopes for a reflective Lenten season. But losing a child didn't fit into my hopes for my life either. That just simply wasn't supposed to happen. Chad wasn't supposed to die.

I'm sure God the Father didn't want his son to die either. But of course there was big meaning in that.

So maybe my Lenten plan isn't supposed to be all dreamy with high hopes for reflection and turning and shifting. I mean, maybe it is about the meaning. The big meaning.

Okay, I'll take the ashes and the dust. For today. For the next 40 days. Maybe even for the rest of my life. I'll get to trade them in for beauty in the end.

Which, as we all know, will be the beginning. The big beginning.

I guess Lent may end up being okay after all, If I lean into the ashes and move toward the meaning. Yeah, I can do that. I can do just about anything if it'll move me closer to Chad, and to God. Lent or no Lent.

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Lots of food for reflection there; I’ve been in those dark nights of the soul many times in my grief. Thank you for the reminders that from the ashes of that darkness sometimes comes meaning. Here’s to moving towards the light.


Love your writing Dear Rita❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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