God, I’ve been living with ashes in my mouth for over a year now.
And though they are bitter and continue to color every single aspect of my day,
I find that I cannot spit them out. For you have put them there, Lord
Living with death is hard–it’s why family parlors became living rooms
It’s why death was exported from homes and churches to funeral homes
Because it’s tough to see just how fragile humanity is.
Is this like white fragility and male fragility? This mortality thing? Do we ignore it because we, mistakenly, think it makes us stronger?
And then in comes the Christ: an openly weeping male, here comes Christ who sits with the sick and the weak and the disabled and the young and the dying.
Here comes Christ, with dust in his hair and dust on his feet, and ashes in his mouth. Tasting his death for all three years of his ministry.
A taste, he too can’t spit out. A taste that when he tries to draw attention to it, or share it with his disciples, it is rejected.
How did it feel, Jesus, when Mary took a moment to sit with you in the dust, and to wash as much as it as she could off, and then to wipe it clean with her own hair? Mary–whose own brother had died–Mary was the one who was able to sit with you in the dust.
How did it taste, Lord? To drink the wine and eat the bread of resurrection, while the taste of ashes was probably at its’ strongest? Did Peter taste it? Or James or John? Did Matthew and Mark feel the grains upon their tongue? Was Luke aware of its dusty origin? Did Judas recognize the taste of death upon his tongue?
And that night in the garden, when the sand of sleep overpowered the disciples, did you feel the dust in the corner of your eyes? Did you wipe it away, or had you learned to live with it by then?
God, I’ve been living with ashes in my mouth all year, and we are going to enter the season of death, of ashes, of the dirty, dusty path to Jerusalem. And so I pray, that I learn to live and learn how to learn a little more from my own mortality.
I pray that some of the taste of ash is eased with the taste of the living waters of baptism and resurrection.
I’m tired of living with ashes on my tongue, God.
But here we are.
Help me to taste the truth and good news even among the ashes, I pray.
Feel free to use/adapt with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta
Art by Beatrice Stenta