It's Ash Wednesday this Wednesday...and it's Valentine's Day too!
We have reached the half way point in the school year, with one semester over and a new one now begun. With every new beginning, we get a fresh start to recommit ourselves to resolutions and meeting the goals we set for ourselves. Whether it is to live healthier by eating better or exercising more; to be a better student using our time wisely to review our notes every night; or to find healthier ways to cope with those issues we are struggling with, a fresh start lets us begin again. STA offers much to help with all the above!
In our faith tradition, Wednesday begins a significant holy season, the season of LENT. It is 40 days (not including Sundays) of paying attention to how we are missing the mark of being the kind of people God created us to be. Typically, Christians choose something to give up for LENT, something that they really like and enjoy, as a way of sacrificing something to attain holiness. In recent years, some have opted to adopt a holy behaviour instead of giving something up: volunteering at a charity, helping a neighbour, visiting the sick...that sort of thing. However way you decide to make LENT more meaningful to nurture your own holiness, we pray that it is an enriching experience and you come to know God in a whole new way!
Wednesday is also Valentine's Day, which is an ironic occurrence this year. Valentine's Day is about celebrating love. Consequently, so is LENT. Valentine's Day images and events centre around the romantic aspects of love which are good, but in our lived reality, the romantic image of love can only go so far. We know from our experience that love is deeper and more profound than that. When you think of the wedding vows that couples make, it is "richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health..." This is where our faith comes in. God so loved the world that God sent us the Son. In Jesus Christ, we have the example of true love: Jesus was not scared of touching the lepers, the sick or the dead to heal them; Jesus extended his friendship to those who were on the "outside" of the accepted circle, speaking with Samaritans, challenging the leaders of his day and dining with tax collectors and prostitutes. LENT and Valentine's Day coinciding can be a blessing to remind us exactly what love entails. It is more than the picture perfect image of a romantic dinner or a romantic walk, walking hand in hand with the one we are crazy about. It is first and foremost accepting and loving ourselves as God loves us and then extending this to others we meet, regardless of race, religion, creed, gender, class, age, ethnicity, etc.
Blessings to you and your loved ones this holy season of LENT.