Ashes Worth Wearing

by | Feb 17, 2015 | Ordinary, Reflections

They are ancient words.
“Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
And we take the once green and growing palm leaves
And burn them in reforming fire.
Then we mix them with water,
Source of Life, Crashing Waters of Creation
and we wait.
Lent is waiting, getting ready.

They are ashes worth wearing
calling us to give intention to this rhythm of life and death,
and life again.

They are ashes worth wearing
calling us to be present, making ourselves available,
to give and receive life with all its risks and glories.

Even more ancient than ashes is stardust.

The science-poet Ernesto Cardenal writes:

What’s in a star? We are.
All the elements of our body and of the planet
were once in the belly of a star.
We are stardust.
We come from the stars, and to them we shall return.

We are stardust.
Remember you are connected and to connection you will return.

Ashes. Fire. Water.
Elements of stardust.
Shared among all creation.
We are One as we come
Part of the Mystery.

They are ashes worth wearing.

What invitation is present for you this Lent as you remember you are stardust and connected to all that is?
What ‘password’ helps hold a longing calling for your attention in these days of Lent?
What is your deepest desire? Does it have a shape, a colour, or an image?
Can you hear the prayer praying in you as Lent begins?

 Read the whole poem here: Stardust by Ernest Cardenal.

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  1. Thanks Janice, this is helpful as I prepare to preach at St. Georges Anglican church tomorrow evening. I remember participating in the imposition of ashes last year, soon after I moved to New Glasgow, and feeling a little like a fish out of water. Then I place ashes of the forehead of a man in my congregation in his 90’s and realized the depth of the words I was saying. It was deeply honest and moving to be saying those words to a person who was still very much alive, but who most certainly, I will have the chance to say them once again. In this death denying time, these words matter in a liturgy.

  2. My password for Lent is ‘Serenity’. Upon waking from a dream a few days ago, I was left with one word that stayed with me throughout the day…Serenity. I have written the word on a post-it note beside my desk and I am finding that as this word takes on life within me, it is opening into a kind of acceptance that nourishes my heart. Serenity is my Lenten prayer.

  3. Thanks Donna. the power of ritual to give meaning, for sure.

  4. I love how you word was embodied in a dream. And I like the idea of putting your word on a post-it note. Thanks.

  5. Very profound and very helpful , especially as I’m beginning this Lent journeying with a family in the land of vulnerability and mortality .

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