A Starting Place for a Holy Lent

by Sari Ateek, RectorThe Rev. Sari Ateek, Rector

This coming Wednesday, we welcome in the season of Lent with these centering words found at the opening of our Ash Wednesday Liturgy:

As we enter into this sacred place,
put away the pressures of the world that ask us
to perform,
to take up masks,
to put on brave fronts.
Silence the voices that ask you to be perfect.
This is a community of compassion and welcoming.

As I begin to contemplate my own hopes and aspirations for this season of Lent, I find these words profoundly relevant to the type of spiritual journey that I seek. Spiritual awareness is not something that we discover or experience on the surface plains of life, but rather in those deeper places where the authentic and vulnerable self can come in direct contact with the transforming grace of God.

When I think of the many ways in which all of us are conditioned to perform, and the various masks that we almost instinctually put on in order to satisfy these fundamental desires for significance, affirmation, and belonging, I am mindful of the layers of inauthenticity that often shroud the vulnerable and impressionable self that lies at the core of who we are. These layers can inadvertently fortify the true self against those desired forces of transformation that, by nature, require access to the vulnerable spaces in our lives in order to awaken us.

So it seems that the most natural starting place for any pilgrim seeking spiritual awakeness and renewal is to stop. By stilling the voices within us, and peeling back the layers of social conformity that define us, we allow ourselves to stand before a loving God just as we are.

Let us prepare ourselves to receive the blessings of this holy season.

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