It’s Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and in my world, that means it’s time for a different perspective.

For me, Lent feels like it started at the beginning of the year.  You might say I feel pretty ready for Lent.

But I know I’m not.  I never am, no matter what life has in store for me.

This Lent, I’m reflecting once again on my relationship with fasting and how much it helps me.

I’m also reflecting on faith.  Yes, yes, I am always reflecting on faith, but this is in a different way.

I wasn’t always Catholic.  I haven’t always been a big fan of Christianity.  In fact, I went through a period when I was pretty rude about my views (even if only in my own head, though I’m pretty sure those around me were quite aware of my feelings).

Some of the people I admire and love are not Christian.  I don’t know if they ever will be.

They are amazing people, people who have met me at the hospital in the middle of the night, who have come to my children’s baptisms and have remembered the important feasts in our family life.  They have as much respect for our Catholic faith tradition as the others who are Christian.

One of my dear friends (who became my friend through our relationship as sisters-in-law) is an atheist.  She’s quiet about it, because the label “atheist” is, well, inflammatory in many circles, and she also doesn’t want to disrespect our family’s strong Christian tradition by a misinterpretation by what she means when she calls herself an atheist.

In the coming Wednesdays of Lent, she has graciously agreed to share her journey here, on my blog, in a series I’m calling “A Different Perspective.”

At first, this may not make sense.  This is, after all, a Catholic blog.

Catholic, you may recall, means universal.  Some of the people who teach me the most about my faith and my trust in God don’t intend to, and some of them aren’t Catholic or even Christian.

Perhaps this series will be something you skip, and that’s OK.  It is my hope that it might give you a glimpse at the real person behind the label, at the struggles that are universally human.

And maybe it will inspire your prayers by giving you a different perspective.