Friday, March 18, 2005

The Time of Ashes

I wrote this a couple of days before Ash Wednesday and I don't remember why I didn't post it. So here it is as we begin our journey toward Palm and Passion Sunday, Holy Week, Jerusalem, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. There is still time to participate in Lenten Disciplines, but the time is fleeing.

The time of the ashes has come.
They are dark and gritty against my skin.
Oily and caustic they are drawn with a fingertip lightly.
Yet they burden me with their weight.

The time of the ashes has come;
Joy has ended.
The cost of estrangement is growing
The regret of things not said and done
Has overtaken me.
Damn you God! How dare you be silent!
I can only pray with clenched teeth.

Hate overwhelms me,
My anger consumes me,
My antagonist overtakes me,
But he wears my face.

The time of the ashes has come.
The altar is calling me and beguiling me and rips at my soul.
How long oh God?
How long will the desolation be?
How long will my tears be dammed?
My God! The heaviness of my heart cannot be borne.

Yet God is found at the ash heap
God finds me as I scrape at my sores
With the shards of my own brokenness
piercing the boils and tearing my own flesh.
And the blood runs freely down mingling
with the drifting ashes
a black unholy snow.

God is always at the ash heap
Mourning His lost and corrupted creation
crying the tears I cannot.

"Create in me a clean heart oh God.
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy Presence,
and take not thy Holy Spirit from me."

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