The liturgy, from beginning to end, makes this point absolutely clear: we are mortal. Yet, we are not simply mortal. We are created and blessed with both mortality and immortality coexisting. Tending to our mortal lives, which we can see and touch, is one of the many ways we tend to our immortal lives, which we cannot see, cannot touch.
Rather than disparaging mortality, the liturgy seems to suggest that our mortality is worth tending to, worth investing in, worth strengthening and guiding more fully into God's purposes for us—and not simply for what it may or may not earn or win for us in some distant future, but because of how it equips us to be and what it equips us to do here, now, 'in this present time of our own mortality.'
Like any new beginning, birthed from the hard work of self-awareness, this pivotal day of Ashes can bend us one of two ways: discouragement or encouragement.
If our spiritual yearning serves only to build resentment toward our tender mortality, focusing exclusively on how far we have yet to go, then God's bidding forward will only serve to discourage us. But if our spiritual yearning can carry our whole selves along with it, deepening our affection for God and our gentleness with ourselves, then God's bidding will have given us not only the courage to persevere along the distance yet to go, but also the gratitude and deep delight in the distance we've come so far.
May your journey through Lent—and throughout the year—be filled with fruitful challenge, joyful surprise, and an increased capacity for compassion and good humor.