Poem for Ash Wednesday

Here’s a poem for Ash Wednesday from Lisa Caldwell-Reiss.

Ash Wednesday Poem

Will stopping this Wednesday to receive
the sign of the cross in dirty ash
Upon tired foreheads really make a difference
Mark us for a moment, a season, a lifetime?

Will this emblem on our own skin
Soak in where words have not
and choices have not?

I wonder at its hope and purpose.

People of candle flame and tongues of fire,
Walkers on water who have dipped
beneath the cleansing surface,
Taking a night to dabble in oily ash and stain.

Would that Sunday, yet two months away,
dawn at all, if not as bright,
with trumpet call to new life if we could not
stand in this other truth, as true
as resurrection but more gritty?

Does its honest presence make the revelation
The breath, the rising sun possible?

We stand with grimy hands, flinching,
Drawing back from the itchy sensation
Of ash and oil and human nature.

Holding ourselves still
And breathing deeply until, we can be,
wholly in this grubby skin,
Waiting, with creation for the water and the flame.

Tossing scraps of paper sin into a smoky burner
Watching as they are consumed,
disintegrate and rise,
Prayers for healing, longing, hope, to God.

We laugh, upside down and unrelenting,
A laugh like Easter morning.

~ written by Lisa M. Caldwell-Reiss.  Lisa gives permission for not-for-profit use in educational or worship settings as long as the following is included: “Used by permission of Lisa M.Caldwell-Reiss.”  To read more of her work, visit her blog at What I am really writing http://lailacr.blogspot.com/.