Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Recovering lament: "Ashes and Weeping," revisited

Gospel entreaties to private prayer notwithstanding, Ash Wednesday is one of the most public days of the Christian year. At what other time do Christians from the liturgical churches have a visible mark on their skin?

No rose tattoo, this. Ashes.

“You have created us out of the dust of the earth. . .” Thus we pray before the imposition of ashes in the Ash Wednesday liturgy. Meditating on the day's scriptures in the past weeks, I have thought often of that dust, more as earth than as ashes; the prayer reminds me of our createdness and of the planet and soil on which we live. From earth we come, to earth we shall return, through earth we are connected to all that lives.

But as Ash Wednesday grows close – and as I hear the
news each day, look around me, and search my own heart – I find myself thinking of ashes as . . .

For the rest of the essay, see

I wrote this reflection in anticipation of Ash Wednesday two years ago, for the recently defunct and much lamented The Witness.

I think it is still pertinent this year.

Blessings, all, for this Ash Wednesday 2007.

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