Lent initially simply meant spring (as in the German language Lenzand Dutch lente) and derives from the Germanic root for long because in the spring the days visibly lengthen. Our Second son and I went to the Cathedral for the five o'clock Ash Wednesday Service. It was a wonderful service. Ash to Ash. Dust to Dust. Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return. There is so much reference to the death of oneself in most Ash Wednesday services that it was refreshing to be reminded that it is also a time of renewal.
Father challenged us to think of Lent as a time to renew, to be buried deeply into the life of Christ to come up again as a new creature. We put on Ashes to remember us of morality but also of the dirt/clay that God took into his hands to make Adam to create man/woman. The ashes invoke a planting of spiritual seeds into the ground of our hearts and souls. How we nurture these seedlings depends on our spiritual needs. We could read more scriptures, attend daily Mass, spend more time in prayer. We could begin to look after ourselves more, care for our health, exercise, sleep better. We could cultivate a more curious mind by reading more watching TV less. Whatever it is, we can see ourselves as the caregiver of God's fertile ground which is our hearts, souls and minds.