Today, the first day of Lent, marks the start of a 43-day period between Mardis gras and Easter, which is an allusion to the separation of Jesus from all the hubub, when he went in the desert to fast and pray. The devil tempted him. Matthew 4:1–11, Mark 1:12–13, and Luke 4:1–13.While not specifically instituted in the Bible text, the 40-day period of repentance is also analogous to the 40 days during which Moses repented and fasted in response to the making of the Golden Calf . A lot happens with disciplined focus in 40 days. See my forty divorce documents, (2010), a daily painting ritual that brought me peace and hope with the end of a dream.
Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.
According to Wikipedia, "in some traditions, other practices are sometimes added or substituted, as other ways of symbolizing the confession and penitence of the day. For example, in one common variation, small cards are distributed to the congregation on which people are invited to write a sin they wish to confess. These small cards are brought forth to the altar table where they are burned."
A couple of destroyed paintings from past Ash Wednesday seasons. (The old nest in my head, birdsongs, and suitcase full of shoes)