I spent the early morning of Ash Wednesday at the King Street Metro, being glad that it was as warm as it was, and keeping my face set with an expression of warmth and open invitation. Over and over again I prayed and heard others who were there for Ashes to Go, Matt and Santiago, praying this prayer:

Almighty and merciful God, you hate nothing you have made, and forgive the sins of all who are penitent; create in us new and contrite hearts, so that when we turn to you and confess our sins and acknowledge our need, we may receive your full and perfect forgiveness, through Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen.

There is such poetry in this prayer, asking for new hearts, ready to turn, to be real and tell the truth, and to acknowledge our need. This is one of the hardest things that we can do – to be vulnerable and to acknowledge that we have need. From the classic two-year-old who wants to do it all “myself” to the confidence of teenage years, from that time as young adults striving for true independence and self-sufficiency to middle age when we support and serve family and others, from seeking new purposefulness in retirement to the desire to maintain independence as health issues make that harder – in all of these ages and stages of life, we humans still fall into the trap of wanting to do it all “myself.” It is so important to acknowledge our need and to know that there is no shame in needing.

2017-ashes-to-go-for-blog-photo-credit-santiago-rodriguez.jpegWe all need help from others, whether family or friends or even strangers. But we especially need help from God. When we “acknowledge our need” it is not just the need for forgiveness from God for all of the things we have done and left undone, though it is that as well. It is also that we need help, help that will support us in living the best life as a human that each one of us can do.

This Lent, open up your newly cleansed heart to God and ask for direction and help. Don’t reach down to your bootstraps – God lifts you up. And be open to the new ways that God is moving in your lift. Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit as you walk these 40 days, plus Sundays, of Lent.