Poem of the Week

Marked by Ashes

by Walter Brueggemann

Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day . . .
This day — a gift from you.
This day — like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received.
This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility.
This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home
halfway back to committees and memos,
halfway back to calls and appointments,
halfway on to next Sunday,
halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,
half turned toward you, half rather not.

This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,
but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes —
we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:
of failed hope and broken promises,
of forgotten children and frightened women,
we ourselves are ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
we can taste our mortality as we roll the ash around on our tongues.

We are able to ponder our ashness with
some confidence, only because our every Wednesday of ashes
anticipates your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.

On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you —
you Easter parade of newness.
Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,
Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;
Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.
Come here and Easter our Wednesday with
mercy and justice and peace and generosity.



It’s already lent and time for me to think about how I’ll make this a meaningful time of reflection and wise change. I like to find a good spiritual book to read and to commit to some changes in behavior. My friend Jennifer, who’s Protestant, actually taught me a lot about why we give things up for lent. For her, it’s not just to make life harder, but more about giving up those treats and comforts we reach for when we’ve had a tough day or are going through a crisis. These items tend to be cheap substitutes for God.

With that in mind I’ve chose two Bible devotions to do from YouVersion, a Bible app and I’d like to get a book, any book, by Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk. I also will observe not having meat on Fridays or Ash Wednesday. I plan to write 5 days a week at least as God’s pleased when we use the talents he gave us. Also, I plan to give up sweets, they’re what I grab when I get nervous or worry.

Finally, I’m taking a break from Twitter and Facebook for Lent. We’ll see how this works.

Here’s a poem by T.S. Eliot called Ash Wednesday.