From Exile to Hope - January 26, 2023

From Exile to Hope - January 26, 2023

January 25, 2023

By: Rev. Dr. Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon

This last week I received the ashes I ordered as well as a cruet for our new campus minister Lewis Cox.  I also put together our Ash Wednesday service for Feb. 22.  As I was doing all of this preparing, I came across a poem I wrote for Ash Wednesday a few years ago. I had been driving somewhere and I heard a program on NPR talking about a company in Illinois or Indiana, one of those states, who were turning human cremains into diamonds that people could wear in jewelry.  As I pondered that, and was turning my spiritual life toward Ash Wednesday and Lent, I wrote the following poem. May it serve you. 

Ash Wednesday

I heard they are turning ashes into diamonds,
and I wondered if when our brows are marked
beneath the black smudge, hidden prisms are cut
with light that reveal eternity with You --
as though we are committed in a new way,
as though in memory of death we live
with a love that holds the earth in our bodies,
the water in our veins, the breath
taken in and given forth, over and repeating,
while a set of diamonds flashes across our mind’s eye:
we can see we have risen; we can see we are living with You.
 
I heard they are turning ashes into diamonds,
and I wanted to collect mine for You, 
to bring before you the losses of my life,
the grief and the nights of pacing,
the times of gazing at the dark sky
counting the stars and counting my brokenness.
I wanted to gather my ashes and set them in a ring
to give to You, memories of my mother and father,
my friends taken too early, my aloneness. 
I would gather my ashes and smear my forehead
so it would be a dazzle of light for You.
 
I heard they are turning ashes into diamonds,
and I decided to look and see the faces of my neighbors,
to look upon their smudging, to see what was the truth of this.
And I saw that the caverns of their souls held uncut gems,
places where their sides were also pierced, following You,
moments when they, too, declined to drink, following You.
I saw how their kneeling rubbed the light into the rock
and into the ash, and how when they embraced each other
the gems were set into eternity.
I reached for them and they for me.
And now we have grown wealthy in Your providence,
the ashes, the diamonds, the grace. 

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