Today is Ash Wednesday, a Christian day of cleansing the soul and embracing Lent. For more information, click here: https://www.catholic.org/lent/ashwed.php
Don't worry, I'm not here to convert you or anything. Instead, I want to talk about the symbolism Ash Wednesday represents. Let me give you an example.
When I was in university, I went to a weekly Bible study. When Ash Wednesday rolled around, we did a special service. The leader asked us to write down all of our past mistakes, regrets, sins on a piece of paper and bring it to the service. I wrote down as much as I could think of. It was quite a list.
When the Ash Wednesday service started, we all said a prayer and then the leader spoke. He talked about how what we wrote down on our papers weighed heavily on our souls. He talked about the only way to be free was to allow Christ to cleanse our souls through forgiveness. He then asked each of us to come forward and place our lists in the metal garbage can at his feet and then form a circle. We did.
He lit a match and threw it into the garbage can. "With this match, all your sins, mistakes, regrets, everything you wrote down is cleansed by fire."
I watched in fascination as my regrets went up in flames. When the fire burned all the paper and he put out the fire, he asked each of us to take a bit of ash and make a cross on our foreheads.
I think about that ritual every Ash Wednesday because it truly changed my perspective on life. Watching my past mistakes go up flame uplifted my soul. I felt lighter than I did in years. Every Ash Wednesday from that point on, I have repeated the ritual using a candle. I stare at the candle and speak my list into the flame, saying a prayer and meditating. This activity purges my soul and I'm ready for whatever may come. I'm one with the Universe.
You don't have to do the same as me but the symbolism is one you cannot ignore. Darkness weighs down your soul and there are times when you need to cleanse your spirit. Meditate, pray, stare at the sky or the ocean, do something that brings a sense of calm.
I'll be sure to light a candle for you today.