• David Carlson

338 We bow our heads to receive ashes. At the end of Lent, we will bow even lower to wash the feet.

Day 338: Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Today we bow our heads to receive ashes. At the end of Lent, we will bow even lower to wash the feet of our brothers and sisters.


Reflection from Pope Francis

Lent is a humble descent both inwards and towards others. It is about realizing that salvation is not an ascent to glory, but a descent in love.


It is about becoming little.


Lest we go astray on our journey, let us stand before the cross of Jesus: the silent throne of God.

In his wounds, we recognize our emptiness, our shortcomings, the wounds of our sin and all the hurt we have experienced. We see clearly that God points his finger at no one, but rather opens his arms to embrace us. His wounds were inflicted for our sake, and by those wounds we have been healed (cf. 1 Pet 2:25; Is 53:5).


Once again, the word of God asks us to return to the Holy Spirit. The ashes on our head remind us that we are dust and to dust we will return. Yet upon this dust of ours, God blew his Spirit of life. So we should no longer live our lives chasing dust, chasing things that are here today and gone tomorrow. Let us return to the Spirit, the Giver of Life; let us return to the Fire that resurrects our ashes, to the Fire who teaches us to love. Let us pray once more to the Holy Spirit and rediscover the fire of praise, which consumes the ashes of lamentation and resignation.


Where we are most vulnerable, where we feel the most shame, he came to meet us. And having come to meet us, he now invites us to return to him, to rediscover the joy of being loved.

The journey of Lent is an exodus, an exodus from slavery to freedom. These forty days correspond to the forty years that God’s people trekked through the desert to return to their homeland. How difficult it was to leave Egypt! It was more difficult for God’s people to leave the Egypt of the heart, that Egypt they carried within them, than to leave the land of Egypt. It is hard to leave Egypt behind.

During their journey, there was an ever-present temptation to turn back, to cling to memories of the past or to this or that idol. So it is with us: our journey back to God is blocked by our unhealthy attachments, held back by the seductive snares of our sins, by the false security of money and appearances, by the paralysis of our discontents. To embark on this journey, we have to unmask these illusions.

All of us have spiritual infirmities that we cannot heal on our own. All of us have deep-seated vices that we cannot uproot alone. All of us have paralyzing fears that we cannot overcome alone. We need to imitate the leper, who came back to Jesus and threw himself at his feet. We need Jesus’ healing, we need to present our wounds to him and say: “Jesus, I am in your presence, with my sin, with my sorrows. You are the physician. You can set me free. Heal my heart”.



BLESSING


Blessing the Dust – A Blessing for Ash Wednesday (by Jan Richardson)


All those days

you felt like dust,

like dirt,

as if all you had to do

was turn your face

toward the wind

and be scattered

to the four corners


or swept away

by the smallest breath

as insubstantial –


did you not know

what the Holy One

can do with dust?


This is the day

we freely say

we are scorched.


This is the hour

we are marked

by what has made it

through the burning.


This is the moment

we ask for the blessing

that lives within

the ancient ashes,

that makes its home

inside the soil of

this sacred earth.


So let us be marked

not for sorrow.

And let us be marked

not for shame.

Let us be marked

not for false humility

or for thinking

we are less

than we are


but for claiming

what God can do

within the dust,

within the dirt,

within the stuff

of which the world

is made

and the stars that blaze

in our bones

and the galaxies that spiral

inside the smudge

we bear.


—Jan Richardson from Circle of Grace

© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com



SONGS

Everlasting Arms feat. Dr. John | Playing For Change | Song Around The World

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9YvB9FmR3E


Ashes to Ashes Lyric Video - Dan Schutte

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NM1MYet8kNc


Lean on Me - ArtistsCAN

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=athd5_CW_z0


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