This will mark my second Ash Wednesday free of a particular burden that dominated my lenten observance for many years. Self examination, hope and return all too often degenerated into (as Peacebang put it so well yesterday) a "40 day carnival of self loathing." The path was a "dark and tangled" one. And yet, each year, the flicker of the fire of hope would burn, though ever more faintly...
William Phillips Tilden talks about these paths and this fire in his Leaflets for Lent (remember that these Lenten meditations were compiled after his death by his daughter and are arranged in two page segments, the first page of which contains scripture readings and the second, a meditation from the words of Brother Tilden)
'THEREFORE also now, saith the Lord, turn ye, even to me with all your heart. . . . Turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.
Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; . . . and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you:
" What is this that stirs within
Loving goodness, hating sin?
'Tis the soul, mysterious name.
Him it seeks from whom it came."
Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and break every yoke ?
But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
Joel ii. Isaiah Ivili. Matt. vi.
THE GREAT AWAKENING.
JESUS found the way to God, and waits to show that way to us. He saw the truth of God, and seeks to show it to darkened minds. He lived the life divine, and calls on every child of God to follow. Man is God's child...born out of the bosom of Divine Love, bearing the Father's image and likeness; and though he wanders oft in dark and tangled paths, God loves him still, and ever seeks to win him back from sin and its retribution to goodness and its blessed rewards.
" Come, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Dove,
With all thy quickening powers:
Kindle a flame of sacred love
In these cold hearts of ours.
Come, shed abroad a Saviour's love,
And that shall kindle ours."
The fire we need must be kindled on our own altars. May the Heavenly Father, who is our Life, and the Spirit of His dearly beloved Son, and the communion of all holy influences, keep our souls on fire with the purpose of being followers of God as dear children.