Today is Ash Wednesday.  The day we begin the Christian season of Lent, which is the 40 day fast leading up to Easter.  Although I am a Southern Baptist, I was raised in the United Methodist Church.  And I have a deep love for the liturgical traditions of so many of my ancestors and so many of my brothers and sisters around the world.

I am, I have said before, Baptlicodox.  That is to say, there are beautiful things in the traditions of Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox Christians.  I once heard it said that ‘the sum of the world’s wisdom cannot be found in any one language.’

Indeed. As such, the revelation of the person and work of Jesus Christ can surely not be located in one tradition alone.  We who follow him, intentionally, are the children of God and brothers and sisters of Jesus.  Knowing my children as I do I can say that my love for each is breathtaking, but my relationship and interaction with each is also unique.  I suspect as much in the way each faith tradition approaches, relates to, comprehends and worships God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Many Christians fast for Lent, in one way or another.  I have, down the years, given up meat one meal a day (a luxury in the West to be sure), given up chocolate, iced tea, social media, a meal a day and others that I likely have forgotten.

There was a time when my Lenten fasts were often Lenten failures as I succumbed to my desire to have back the thing I gave up, and did so all too quickly.  This was confirmed by Matt Fradd of the Pints with Aquinus podcast.  ( https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/pints-with-aquinas/e/67417141) who said, and I paraphrase, that we sometimes choose multiple fasts for the season, knowing that we will fail at several and hoping one might stick.  God bless him for saying that!  I agree.

This year I considered 1) drinking only water.  But ultimately I realized that was just so I’d lose weight.  A noble goal but not really very holy.  2) Giving up sweets and chocolate.  I have done this and it was alright, but it did make me obsess about sweets. And when you work in the ER as I do, sometimes there can be a lot of candy around.  At 3 am after treating a cardiac arrest it’s hard to walk past the donut. 3) A meal a day.  Not a bad one. I’ve done it. It can be inconvenient, but then, that’s the point, right?  To focus on the sacrifice of Christ.

But ultimately I decided to give up three things. Hopefully one sticks.

1) social media.  In particular, using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. All of these are big black holes of useful, creative time. And often create anxiety and inner discord.

2) anxiety.  What do I mean?  I’m an emergency physician, and I dive fearlessly into the worst and weirdest medical scenarios. But on many fronts I worry like crazy. About my family, my job, the future, disease, aging, coronavirus….the list is long.  In fact, it has always been so.  I have built and elaborate altar to worry in my heart, and I sacrifice my days and hours, my sleep and joy on it.  This Lenten season I hope to put an end to that, and to focus on scripture whenever worry lurks.  This may be the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do for Lent.

3) rather than give something up, to add something. As a writer I have so many ideas circulating in my head all the time. Some I ignore thanks to ridiculous things like television and social media, other because I sit and worry rather than write.  And still others, I simply put off, as if I can always write.  But time goes on, and one day I will be no more.  The ideas I have need expression.  I believe, based on experience, that I have a gift that God has given me.  And it would be no small sin to let that die without reaching as far as I could with it.

So, I will try, with God’s help, to write a post here every day for the next 40 days.  It won’t be easy because I’m lazy.  And sometimes busy. However, that’s my goal.  Some will be essay, some poetry or fiction. Some very real posts about problems in the world, particularly my world of healthcare.

I wish you a blessed Lenten season.  I wish you a deeper revelation of Christ.

And I hope you come by from time to time.

Peace.