This is the one day a year where you will hear the random question “What are you giving up?” Except, today it’s not random. Today is the day when we come face to face with what keeps us from being the person God created us to be. We so long to live an authentic life that we will do anything, anything to find some sense of authenticity. So much so, we will quit drinking coffee, give up chocolate, get off the soda, whatever it may be. This is serious business of the soul. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ most well know sermon, he told those gathered to not role play in front of God. Don’t spend your time playing the person you think others want you to be. It will drain your soul, suck the very life God gave you right out of you. I love this thought from Joseph Campbell, a spiritual writer, when he says “the spiritual imperative to be ourselves is so strong that the soul rather fail at its own life than succeed at someone else’s.”
Perhaps the best thing we can do for ourselves and for God over the next 40 days is to discern from a spiritual place what it means to be us. Jesus warned us about the consequences of trying to be someone other than who God created us to be. May you find the fullness and richness of life that comes with living an authentic life. May the Ashes of today serve as a reminder that we have but one life to live and that every day matters.