Ashes are representative of mortality and need for repentance and reconciliation. The forty days recall the forty-year journey from bondage in Egypt to liberation in a new land with new hopes. The readings share Jesus’ journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. It provides time for us to take stock of our journeys, to eliminate clutter, to renew our hearts, vision, and commitment and allow God to lead us.
In order to be a full participant in this spiritual journey each must put aside any brokenness, fear, hopelessness, broken relationships. Each must die to this old way and identity to become a new creation, so to speak.
Along with two other Dominican sisters I am currently serving a 3½ year prison sentence for a non-violent Ploughshares action against the war in Iraq. Lent means a lot to me here.
One of the cards I received in prison recently listed the gifts of the feminine: giving, receiving, enhancing, loving, unifying, listening, nourishing, attuning, companioning, affirming, caring, connecting, giving life, supporting, healing, gathering, encouraging, including, seeing the whole, partnering, comforting, freeing, gentling, peacemaking, being with, sharing. These reflect a journey of counter-cultural living sufficient to crumble the empire and shake the foundations of every institution of domination and patriarchy. I would add truth-telling, studying and resisting to the list above.
We are all ordinary people on this journey. There are no heroes or especially courageous travellers among us. We recognize that fasting and prayer strengthen the body and spirit, but it is God who takes the brunt of the burdens and who lessens the loads on the way.
Yes, Lent seems like a great time to take on the brokenness, fears, struggles, oppression and hopelessness. In our openness we may seek conversion, a renewal, a revolution of the heart, a new creation of peace and justice so we may keep on the journey with more and more fervour.
—Sr. Ardeth Platt O.P.
Danbury Federal Prison