February is known for Valentine's., with  chocolates, cards, special dinners, and dates, Many romantic plans are being made to celebrate this day in various ways. But for this year February 14th marks another day on the Calendar. It is the first day of Lent, and is known as "Ash Wednesday."

Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of blessing oneself from the ash made from palm branches used on the previous year. These ashes are placed on the forehead of participants accompanied by the words " Repent and believe the Gospel" or "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return." Lent is a season of reflection and preparation in  celebrating  the celebration of Easter.

By observing the 40 days of lent, Christians replicate  Jesus Christ's withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days, to spend time reflecting on His life, His sufferings, His sacrifice, His death, burial and Resurrection.  Lent is marked both by fasting from food and festivities. Joel 2:12-13 Says, "Yet even now, says the Lord, return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; rend your hearts and not your clothing."

The following poem, entitled "REND YOUR HEART," was written by Jan L. Richardson.
To receive this blessing,
all you have to do
is let your heart break.
Let it crack open.
Let it fall apart
so that you can see
its secret chambers,
the hidden spaces
where you have hesitated to go.

Your entire life
is here, inscribed whole
upon your heart's walls;
every path taken
or left behind,
every face you turned toward
or turned away,
every word spoken in love
or in rage,
every line of your life
you would prefer to leave in shadow,
every story that shimmers
with treasures known
and those you have yet to find.

It could take you days
to wander these rooms.
Forty at least.

And so let this be
a season for wandering
for trusting the breaking
for tracing the tear
that will return to you.

To the One who waits
who watches
who works within
the rending
to make your heart
whole.

In His Service,


David Dean
Major/Chaplain