A Poem for Ash Wednesday
Father, I look around, and all I see are the ashes:
Broken dreams, lost opportunities, burned-out passions..
Everything else is consumed.
I sit here, on this heap of ashes: sifting through cold dust motes–
There is no heat, no burning embers, no trace of what was.
Such is the nature of sacrifice.
You don’t desire the stench of a half-burnt ram, or a singed goat.
You don’t relish a pile of smoking bones, or a half-hearted heart.
But you honor ashes and sacrifice given
With a whole and willing heart–
Even a broken one.
Your holiness consumes all that is temporal.
The ashes left are what you desire; the essence, the emptiness.
In exchange for them, you pour out
Life and blessing, gladness and healing.
As I sift through the ashes, I will not find the life I built,
The dreams I nurtured,
The honor I sought:
Instead, I will find evidence of the Holy Fire.
The ashes will be scattered to the wind.
They will fall on the waters.
They will become incense and prayers.
I will wear them on my forehead:
Your Holiness has burned away the dross.
My sacrifice is gain, not loss.