Today is Ash Wednesday. Today I will receive the imposition of ashes on my forehead and hear the words, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you will return.” As the journey of Lent begins, I am aware of a deep desire to believe more than I do, to trust Jesus more than I do, to love Jesus more than I do. There is only one way to get there. There are things that need to die in me that the life of Christ might live more fully. It is a strange paradox, but very true.
Lord, High and Holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from the deep well,
and the deeper the wells the bright thy starts shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.
--from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions