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March 9, 2011
A new antiphon at Morning Prayer, as an Epiphany season that seemed to go on forever yields at last to Lent. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, we say, Come, let us adore Him.

I settle gratefully into the soberness. Today is a fast day, and I am quiet. I will preach, and must travel to do so, but I will be quiet and slow as I go. Take my time. Fasting and rushing don't go together.

Yesterday was frantic, beginning with a just-missed train, continuing with backed-up appointments because of the missed train, then back on the train to the delightful mayhem of a pancake supper in the parish and some catch-up writing to finish after that. I was beyond exhausted when at last it was time for bed. I asked God to bless my fast today, my last prayer before falling asleep.

Another thing happened yesterday that caught my attention -- a taxi driver asked me if I was a senior citizen! He wanted to be sure I knew that I could get a ride anywhere in my town for $2.50. This was the first time I had been asked this. It means I look my age.

My regret was slight. Greater was the amusement at having arrived at a new stage, rather like the first time I didn't have to present identification to prove I was over twenty-one. Something they stopped asking me to do a long time ago. Soon it will not be necessary to ask about my senior citizen status, either. It will be obvious.

How brief it all is! That's what the ashes are for -- not for our penitence only, but for our shocking ephemerality. We are here in this form for such a short time. It hurtles by, and then the world hurtles on.

I am hungry, a little bit, and glad that I can walk slowly through this Ash Wednesday. Because life is so very fast.
Puzzled about the antiphon? Looking for a way to add spiritual connection to your days? Try Morning Prayer this Lent, and see how you like it. An easy way is to visit, which gives you everything you need.
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