Having recently returned from caring for my mother, I would like to spend some time reflecting.

As Christians we impose a cross of ashes on our foreheads as a sign of repentance. For me, this symbol is a time for introspection, self-examination and spiritual renewal.

Mum at 95 has dementia and she is confused all the time. Caring for my mum through the last four weeks took a lot of patience and agile creativity. I kept her busy with activities while she mentally bounced in and out of her past experiences and memories. We spoke about our lives, where she came from, her life as a little girl in school. Her travels and all the friends and relatives she encountered through the years. All this fraught with worry.

During these activities and conversations, I was led through some introspection and self-examination. I asked myself often enough, what is she thinking? Why does she worry so much? Can she not leave it to us her adult children to manage her day-to-day?

In time I slowed down, reflected, and had a spiritual awakening. Our lives are fragile and short. We are created from dust and to dust we return. During this Lenten season, we are invited to reflect and turn to new ways. As Pope Francis says, let us “fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude”.

As I look into the future and my time with mum, I experience a sense of gratitude for the weeks we recently shared, a special closeness and forgiveness for all we have been through together. With it came joy, knowing she is ready to face whatever the future has in store.

I journey through this Lenten season with joy and gratitude for the kindness Our Lord has shown us so we can do the same.

Cyrilla Almeida