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by Anne Peterson

Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality, that we may remember that it is by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life. Amen.

In 1975 a three-months-pregnant, 27-year-old Paula D’Arcy was riding in a car with her husband and daughter when a drunk driver broad-sided them. D’Arcy’s husband and daughter were killed; she survived. Six months later she gave birth to a new daughter.

In 1998, at a New Year’s Retreat I attended at Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation, she described plunging to the depths of despair and then, slowly, beginning to weave a new life in among the strands of tragedy. When she came to a better place, she hung her late husband’s bathrobe in her closet—to remind her that life is short and not to waste it.

The ashes from yesterday’s Ash Wednesday 7:00 a.m. service and the recent deaths of two individuals who had given so much of themselves to All Saints and to me, personally, are vivid reminders of mortality. How am I to spend the moments that are left for me?

I identify as a 7 on the Enneagram and love looking ahead to what’s next. I would like nothing more than to plan for all those remaining moments. However, this Lent, I am resolved to curb my enthusiasm for planning and to shelter in the present moment. What are you up to this Lent?

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