The Long Walk … and the First Step on Ash Wednesday

“Have patience with all things, but first of all with yourself.”
— St. Francis de Sales

A natural human response to the prospect of a long walk might be ”Can I get a lift, instead??”

Well, no, not for this walk. It will be a solitary walk, but one where many may join, all on their own paths, with individual crosses dotting the landscape.

We have the opportunity to bear one another’s burdens, embrace each others’ weaknesses, comfort each others’ sadness, and celebrate each others’ joys, as we walk steadily on this path.

I’ve come to recognize Lent is not a solitary event. How could it be when, on Ash Wednesday, the first reading, from Joel:

Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.

That’s a lot of activity on such a solemn day. Don’t be morose, we’d told. Get to work on God’s Kingdom. Christ is walking with us, as our partner, our guide, our hope and our dream. We have the greatest opportunity to revisit us. We have the chance for self-examination, and to consider what can be different as we endure Christ’s pain during Holy Week, and celebrate his rising at Easter. And, we’re not alone. We have each other, bound in the love of God.

There’s work to be done as we walk.

Image: Ash Wednesday at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.

Michael Throop