Gn 9:8-15
Mk 1:12-15

My beloved black lab Hannah has taken on a new pattern since we moved to the Southwest. She has decided that there is nothing better than rolling full body on the dirt in our yard. Every time she does this she returns as a chocolate lab to the door to be let in. However the expensive looking dog rubs off with a towel and cleans off with a painful bath. Hannah is comfortable with dust and dirt, but is not fond of water as it pertains to getting cleaned up! Every day we go through this ritual. I keep thinking that there has to be a way for Hannah to get her dirt rub without the routines that come with it.

This week we mark the beginning of the season of Lent. On Ash Wednesday we do it with the sign of the cross on our forehead. Lent invites me into a chance to look at my daily patterns to see if they are leading me more or less into God’s abundance love and forgiveness. In plain words, how might I open myself to new opportunities to respond to life’s blessings and challenges from a calm and loving spirit, rather than one reactive and full of judgment?

I guess the ashen cross becomes my doorway into the journey of a forty day pilgrim. It reminds me that I go forth with my hopes and Lenten practices not by myself, but with the One who went the way of the Cross long ago. Just inside of the doorway I am invited by the readings of Sunday March 1st to follow Jesus into the desert. Here there is plenty of time to (like Hannah) roll around in the desert dirt. So often I am not even aware of my patterns that keep me afraid of Gods abundant love, i.e. not allowing someone to help me do a task or job because I am suppose to do it by myself.

Or there are those patterns which I respond to a friend or coworker in an arrogant or demeaning manner. It might be the tone I use or even the way I look at him or her when I say something. This desert time is meant to be empty enough of other distractions that with the Grace of God and my openness to that grace there is hope for healing and wholeness. It is here and during these forty days of Lent that I hope to sit with Jesus coming to grips with who I am and who I am called to be.

I find that I always start off Lent with a list. I would like to think that my healing over some of these things could get taken care of in just one Lent. I am not sure if that is God’s need, but it would be great.

This morning when I rubbed Hannah down with the towel I wondered if it was the rub down at the end of being called a “dirty dog” that was her prime motivation for the desert rub! Maybe the dirt and rolling around have just become the way she gets what she wants, love and attention.

I hope that my appreciation for Lent isn’t about me needing to stay away from God in order to know God’s graciousness. Actually I think that Lent allows us to travel into a deeper place of God’s love for us, letting old wounds be healed on another level and knowing a deeper draw to God’s kingdom in the here and now.