500,000 people: Ashes

God, we are walking into the dusty path of Lent we realize that we are entering into a world of the missing.

The parents, the children, the aunts and uncles, the neighbors and friends and mentors.

God we have lost 500,000 people.

We have lost them. They slipped through our fingers of selfishness and greed and individualism.

We have lost them, like coins scattered upon the ground, they slipped through our finger–a treasure sunk into the ocean, never to be recovered.

We left our fellow sheep upon the rocks, and didn’t protect each other from the lions and the snakes.

We have forgotten that we are herd animals.

God, we no longer just taste ashes on our tongue. We are consuming them daily–in the news of black and brown people’s continued suffering under racist structures, in the habitual “forgetting” of people with disabilities and their extra isolation and danger in this time of contagion, in the news day after day after day of new infections and new deaths, in the cry of an entire state left in the cold for profit.

God I am afraid I am getting used to the taste of ashes.

I’m becoming bitter like Mara, convinced that normal wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and yet longing to go to a time where I didn’t know death as intimately as I do now.

I feel lost without those 500,000 people.

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

And I know that each of us are grieving in our own way.

And when things implode, and my kids are frustrated beyond my comprehension, or little annoyances seem to take over the day, or it’s hard to get going in the world. I remind myself that we are all living with ashes.

Gather your Sheep, Good Shepherd.

Coax us, tempt us and hook us into the herd.

Tell me its ok if I am a Mara today. It’s ok that I feel too much, and want too much and still somehow dare to dream of a different way.

Remind us that you know each of the 500,000 by name. We have lost them, you promise they will be found. Like coins or sheep, precious and beloved treasures of God.

And my job is to keep walking, to keep finding the rest of my herd, to love those who are lost and to love those who are found.

Help me to keep walking the road to Jerusalem with 500,000 ashes on my tongue I pray.

Amen.

Feel free to use/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

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