Long after the sun sets, its light remains in the reflection of the moon and the living things nourished by its warmth.

Close your eyes for just a moment. In this present darkness, be reminded that you are never alone. Feel God's presence already with you, calling you forward.

When you are ready, open your eyes and heart, and take these first steps in the journey to the cross.

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“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

Matthew 6:1-6

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Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. In many of our traditions, we will gather in sanctuaries where our pastor or priest will spread ashes on our foreheads in the shape of a cross as a reminder that we are from dust and will one day return to dust. This is called the "imposition of ashes."

Yesterday, our Scripture reading proclaimed that where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Ash Wednesday stands in stark contrast when we have the inescapable darkness of the cross imposed upon us.

Lent provides us with the opportunity to focus inward and to give honest consideration to those things that nurture us and those things that weigh us down. There is no faking it, and no way around it. It’s a journey, and sometimes dark and difficult. But there is a light – the promise of Easter, the promise for healing and wholeness that will always scoop us up from the ashes.

Daniel Ingram

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God, you know me better than I know myself. Give me the courage to let some things go, and the wisdom to hold fast to what is true. For it is only by your grace that my whole life can be a reflection of your love. Amen.

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Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;

Naught be all else to me, save that thou art.

Thou my best thought, by day or by night,

Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Irish song (8th century); tr. Mary E. Byrne

Daniel Ingram

Daniel Ingram coordinates special projects (like d365!) with Passport, Inc. Daniel has served as a minister among youth and college students. He enjoys running, cooking, music, and teaching middle school Sunday School. Daniel, his wife, Marnie, and five-year-old daughter, Mollie, live in Birmingham, Alabama.

Be Thou My Vision

Rodrigo Rodriquez

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