Today is Ash Wednesday. For some, it’s a day of remembered sacrifice, of reflection and repentance, symbolized by the wearing of sackcloth and ashes. Thus begins the 40-day Lenten season that ends on Easter Sunday. I was raised Pentecostal, so we didn’t observe those traditions–not in the literal sense, anyway. That’s not to say that we didn’t make sacrifices at the altar of our faith; we most assuredly did. I‘ve been contemplating this of late; and in all humbleness, I have to say: If could remove one stain from my childhood, I would scrub myself clean of shame-based teachings, religious and otherwise. I believe we are called to walk in sunshine, not shame, and to clothe ourselves in soft, forgiving fabrics. That said, I believe also that we come closer to “the angels of our better nature” when we carve out time for spiritual renewal, however that comes to be for each of us. With that in mind, I’m going to observe Lent this year, in a way that makes sense to me. I’m adding beneficial foods to my menu, expanding my exercise routines & yoga practice, and spending more time on activities that promote mindfulness and personal growth. I’m not sacrificing anything, per se, but the end results will be the same, in that making room for these changes will help me release the things I want/need to give up, anyway. I’ve chosen this butterfly–the symbol of change and renewal for many–as my icon for Ash Wednesday. The photograph is soft-focus, purposefully so. I’m unclear on some of the details of my 40-day plan, but the ambiguity affords me a space in which to breathe, to learn, to grow. Things will unfold as they will, and I’m allowing myself to be okay with that.