Today millions of Christians around the world will lower their heads in prayer, be marked with a sooty cross, and begin a 40 day season of purposeful spiritual reflection.
On this day we collectively acknowledge our mortality. When I think of the fleeting nature of my time on earth, it makes me want to live what time I do have left with greater courage and passion.
But, for people who struggle with mental health, Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent can be especially challenging. Not enough religious leaders pay attention to how our liturgy and rituals negatively impact people with disabilities.
I have family members and friends who already think about dying and how to die…all the time.
Thinking about death and dying is a daily thing for people with obsessive and invasive thoughts of suicide. I was disheartened to hear my brother say that he’s lived a quarter of a century wanting to die.
To ritualize this dying through the cross can be a trigger if you fight to live each day.
If this happens to be your particular struggle, I invite you to consider the sign of the cross as the place where the light comes in. Imagine that in the horizontal and vertical shape of the cross, a healing space is being created in your mind.
This Ash Wednesday and throughout Lent, let the light in…let it into those places in our minds longing for healing light.