It’s not a big event in the Evangelical Christian calendar and I never knew about it–let alone celebrated it–until I landed a job in an Anglican/Catholic school.
Now it has become part of my and my family’s yearly spiritual tradition (and yes, we do have pancakes for breakfast on Shrove Tuesday–but the day is more of an excuse to start our day with a sweet stack of carbs than anything else.)
I love the way our staff prayer (the Collect for Ash Wednesday) began this morning: “Almighty God, you hate nothing that you have made . . .” It’s an encouragement and a reminder that our God has a love for us and for all Creation that is overwhelming and everlasting.
I’ll leave it to Fr Richard Rohr to suggest an appropriate response:
The Jewish people have a beautiful prayer form, a kind of litany to which the response is always “Dayenu!” (It would have been enough!).
They list, one by one, the mirabilia Dei, the wonderful works of God for their people and themselves, and after each one, shout out DAYENU! As if to say, “How much is it going to take for us to know that God is with us?!” It builds satisfaction instead of feeding dissatisfaction.
If we begin our day with any notion of scarcity, not-enoughness, victimhood, or “I deserve,” I promise you the day will not be good–for you or for those around you. Nor will God be glorified.
Maybe we all should begin our days with a litany of satisfaction, abundance, and enoughness. God, you have given me another day of totally gratuitous life: my health, my eyes, my ears, my mind, my taste, my family, my freedom, my education, clean water, more than enough food, a roof over my head, a warm bed and blanket, friends, sunshine, a beating heart, and your eternal love and guidance.
To any one of these we must say, “And this is more than enough!”
As we embark on our Lenten journey, one of self-examination and following God in the way of Jesus, may we recognise daily God’s intrinsic goodness and gain a deeper appreciation for God’s love, grace, and peace which is even through this time being poured out on us all.