Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ash Wednesday

A smudge of ash across my forehead, crumbling down onto the bridge of my nose: "May God have mercy on you and guide you on your way." My son cried, terrified, his head buried against me, "But I don't want ashes, Mama, I don't want ashes, don't make me get ashes!" And of course, I didn't and never would. His seemed a strangely prescient objection, a poignant and wordless fear of death, his own demise when he will become ashes again. We are all but ashes, even our children, even our mothers; that is what we are reminded of now. Not of the abundant gift of grace, but of our own finiteness, our end. And we wear and bear this sign as we leave from this dark place, just as our knees bear the weight of our bodies as we bow low on the altar: "I come, I come."