Gn 9:8-15
1 Pt 3:18-22
Mk 1:12-15

Parking for Ashes
The other night I went to our local parish for Ash Wednesday. This might be a slight exaggeration, but truly I think that every car and truck in our city was circling the same blocks as me looking for a parking place. I drove around that four block area several times. At one point I began to question if it really mattered whether I got ashes or not. My work schedule was such that I wasn’t able to go until the 5:30 mass, it would be dark when I got out and I wasn’t going to be seeing anyone tonight but the animals. Who would know anyway…?

However, this morning I woke up and my first step in this Lenten journey was to take Hannah for a walk and use it as an opportunity for prayer. So all day as I spent time with patients it seemed as though I had a rainbow over my head colored with the Lenten colors and inviting me to spend the day in covenant with the God of Noah, Abraham, Sarah and Jesus.

Once I found the sacred parking place and found myself a place to sit in the very packed church, two thoughts surfaced. One had to do with Jesus’ escape into the desert for forty days. I wondered if Jesus had to work as hard to find a place in the desert, as I did a parking place…On the more serious side of that question I wondered what drew him into that place of contemplation. Was the draw just an escape from the crowds? Was it something which a spiritual mentor had encouraged him to do? Did it start out as an adventure with his disciples and he chose to move beyond the group to a quieter place?

As I thought about my own desire to find a parking place and make it to the service, I realized that the longing wasn’t as much about the ashes nor the reminder about living in a mortal body that one day would become ashes, but rather, it was a deeper desire to begin this journey of wholeness from a context of community. A group of people with whom I would celebrate each Sunday’s readings, attend a communal Sacrament of Reconciliation, and with whom I will wade through the depth of the Triduum.

As we move forward into the Lenten journey with whom do we journey and what do we seek?

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.