Ashes

Author Annie Dillard says this about the urgency of writing:

“Write as though you are dying.”

What then is it to live with that same sense of urgency, to live as though we are dying?

What does it mean to write the story of our days in such a way that we are present to the power and poignancy of being alive?

Today I will have traced upon my forehead the symbol of my intention to be present to the ongoing story of breaking and being reborn. As I inhabit this story called life I join my soul to the eternal community of others who believe and seek to live the power of embodied love taught by Jesus.

The grit of the ashen cross traced on my body is reminder to live as though I am dying.

Because I am.

dust

It is so elemental:

A thumb-full of ash traced on forehead.  Eyes that meet as words are spoken about inevitable death.  The deep knowing and willingness to name the beauty and vulnerability of living and the sometimes elusiveness of surety.  The breath of the Holy inspiring being.

We gather each Ash Wednesday and share such intimacy.

And we are changed.

 

ashes

Today is Ash Wednesday.

In the Christian tradition, it is a time set apart to fully face our mortality and the power of our walk with the Christ.

This morning, our church hosted the annual Ash Wednesday service for clergy in the Metro area.  It is gift, this service, because clergy have the opportunity to be gathered with the faith community that grounds and holds us through this fully engaging art called ministry.  As United Methodists, we are deeply rooted in our connection, one to the other.  So gathering with our sisters and brothers to remember our brokenness and the invitation to knit our souls together through the transformational welcome of Jesus is soul feast of the finest order.

Too, I had the opportunity to craft and lead worship with dearly beloved soul sisters.  We have known and appreciated each other since forever.  “Working” with friends to create space for Spirit to bless is a natural voicing of relationship.  It is intimate and trust-grounded work.

Today, as we sat around round tables, one of my sisters invited us to be mindful of what it was we were doing as we marked each other with the sign of mortality and resurrection life.  She invited us to feel each other’s skin and being as we marked each other with ashes.  It was an invitation to give thanks for the body beauty walking in each.  It was holy, holy.

We are mortal.  We long for the sparking of transformation in our lives.  We muddle about longing for a sense of the larger picture of the Holy and sometimes, sometimes we find ourselves reminded.

We are created from the garden of God’s wildly loving imagination.  To that garden our bodies will return.  The in between is what we are given.

Sitting at table, remembering our connection and call, the Spirit spoke claiming and calm into our souls.  Tonight, gathered around those same tables will be members and friends of RUMC who bring themselves into a place where longing for life is named and cherished.  They too will be invited to be present to mystery.

We journey toward transformation in the company of the Holy.

Thanks be.