Monday, February 27, 2017

To dust

We are gathered
dear people of God
but I am not gathered.
renew your repentance and faith

I do not still inside until my body moves, drops to my knees
to make a right beginning
and I feel the discomfort that seems like it shouldn't be quite so uncomfortable
and as a mark of our mortal nature
and I can no longer pretend that my insides and outside are not entwined.

And when we rise
You have created us
I follow down the aisle and I watch the dust smudge the skin of my mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters, new and old and young and aged alike
a sign of our mortality and penitence
and I am always so startled to see even the babies marked and it makes me cry
that we may remember
and it comes to me
Katie, remember that you are dust
and I close my eyes and I feel the fingers and ash on my forehead
and to dust you shall return
and this is both the most and the least important I have ever been
Amen, I agree
and I open my eyes and carry the mark with me inside and out as I go

With our fathers and mothers, we cry out
have mercy on me, O God
and the words are raw and broken
we have sinned by our own fault in thought, word, and deed
but there is always comfort for the penitent, there is always salvation for the distressed
Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, desires not the death of sinners
and we kneel as one as we are reminded that even on this night of dust, we are treasures
He pardons and absolves all those who truly repent

This night, it seems too dark and too dusty and too sober for me to bear
but without it how quickly I forget
that you are dust
and pretend I am strong and important all on my own
and to dust
and I fight the inevitable
you shall return

He gives us the gifts of dust
and ashes
you are dust
and grief
to dust
and repentance
you shall return
for that is the point
you shall return

Forty days
and the seed that dies
that you are dust and to dust you shall return
becomes the tree that rises
that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure and holy
and I discover this low place is where my true authority culminates
that at the last we may come to His eternal joy
and that willing death will always give way to new life.


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