Ash Wednesday

By Pastor Paula Burchill

In Holy Yoga, one of the things the teachers regularly remind us is that yoga is a practice.  It is never perfect, never done, you always have work to do, and your practice is always changing.  We are told never to compare ourselves to others, because everyone’s practice is different.  We are to remember that even if you just come to yoga and sit and breathe, you have practiced yoga.

Lent began today with Ash Wednesday, and with it, some of you may be taking on a Lenten discipline.  The traditional ones are under the categories of repentance, fasting, prayer and works of love.  Most of us, I would venture to guess, take on the fasting ones—things like no chocolate, or coffee or meat on Fridays, or phones after 8.

This year I’m adding something.  I’m adding more prayer to my day—starting each day with a prayer.

I should say I will be practicing starting each day with a prayer.  Because in reality, I know I will forget, and just go straight to making my coffee some days during Lent.

I am all for Lenten disciplines.  Taking things away or adding things to our lives that help us focus, even if only a little more, on the gifts we have been given in Jesus.  Kind of like breathing does in yoga—when you focus and breathe, it helps you be aware of lots that is going on in your body you might not normally be aware of.  This year, I’m wondering if we think of ourselves as practicing our Lenten disciplines, it might help us do them—and not feel so guilty when we don’t.

This year, as I try to add prayer to my life, I’m going to try and remind myself that it is a practice.  I won’t be perfect, it will change, but prayer in general is all about practice.  When we pray we are practicing talking to God and seeing God as a part of all of our lives.  When we pray in all sorts of places, the practice helps us remember that God is everywhere.

I wonder if that is why Lenten disciplines have been around for so many centuries.  The practice helps us take our faith from in our churches or our hearts out into our lives in the world.  That is a great thing to practice.


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