Ash Wednesday, February 10

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

I find it easy to celebrate “so great a cloud of witnesses.” I could name many. But it’s hard for me to “lay aside the weight and sin,” “persevere” and “endure the cross.” I’m a Party Boy (Enneagram Type Seven) and I love to do many things. I like distractions because I can add them to my already-full plate. I don’t like boredom.

But that’s part of my weight, my sin. Nowadays I see sin as a constellation of traits or qualities that keep me in bondage to my Self, and keep me from being the compassionate and courageous person I was created to be.

Centering Prayer and other spiritual practices help me “get over myself.” Centering Prayer isn’t fun. It’s work. They don’t call it a “daily spiritual practice” for nothing.

I endure my cross. In the stillness I come face-to-face with my own traits, especially thoughtless, judgmental and unkind words. I grieve over the hurt I’ve caused. Sometimes it breaks my heart, but a broken heart is a compassionate heart.

I am becoming more reflective, more observant. Those are good things. I will persevere. The cloud of witnesses comforts me in this.

Beloved: when I close my heart to Love, You await nearby. You are kind and gracious, quick to forgive. I open my heart to You. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Dr. Randy Zercher Musician, minister, grandparent