Ash Wednesday: “Renew A Right Spirit Within Me”

Today is Ash Wednesday.

My third Lent as a blogger.  My first Lent was about letting go.  My second Lent was a bit of a disaster–I got a little overambitious, and in all the “to do’s” I gave myself for Lent, I wound up doing nothing.

This year, my list is more on the “being” side, and my intention is to lead a more prayerful, meditative, introspective Lent, with a bit of fasting thrown in–that is, no alcohol, no meat (which I don’t eat anyway), and just eating mindfully and with a grateful heart.

Also, I’ll be reading.  I looked up Lent readings and here is one of them, which I really like.  It’s Psalm 51; 1-17–a prayer for cleansing.

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar

Key thoughts for me:

“Thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.:  It reminds me to meditate to find that “hidden part.”  Living on the surface of life I ignore that part of me–like just eating the icing off the cupcake and throwing the rest away.

“Uphold me with thy free spirit”: “Free spirit” is a bit overused and new-agey, but I like the reminder that God is not about restrictions, it’s about utter freedom, and we can ride on the buoyancy of God’s lovingkindness.

“Renew a right spirit within me”: This is what I wish to do–to recalibrate my soul; pursue “right thought,” “right speech,” “right action,” (as the Buddhists call it) so that I can come home to right spirit.

–Mt. Carmel Way

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