Greetings, friends. By the grace of God (and I truly mean that), my family is all well and relatively unscathed by last week’s extreme weather here in Texas. There is no avoiding, however, the collective emotional trauma our state just experienced. Our hearts break with so many who have lost loved ones and property because of the blizzard. True to form, I endeavored to process the tangle of thoughts and emotions in poetry. Perhaps it is just for us here in my neck of the woods, or even for myself, as a memorial stone, but I offer it in hope and prayer that the Lord would use it to meet someone else in their ashes.
The storm was beautiful as well as terrible. If the Lord wills, I will share some photos soon in a separate post.
My current church does not observe Lent or Ash Wednesday, so I should also note that Ash Wednesday is the first day of a 40-day season of repentance in preparation for the joyous celebration of Easter. On Ash Wednesday, ashes are smeared on one’s forehead in the sign of a cross as a reminder of one’s mortality and sin. The ashes are traditionally made from the Palm Sunday palm branches of the previous year.
Winter Storm Uri
No ashes mark our foreheads this Ash Wednesday.
Palm Sunday’s remnants rest inside their vault.
Pandemic touched our churches, touch restricted.
Emphatic blizzard shut us in. Our light,
Our heat, our water, and our very homes,
In which we hide ourselves for shelter from
The “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”—
All failed, or tottered; some hung by a thread.
The ashen cross smeared not on heads but hearts,
Homes, plans, peace, hopes, and all conceit of strength
Apart from grace, invincibility
Revealed as the mirage it always was.
Illusions of security dissolve
Like smoke from blown-out flame. This storm exposed
In whom, in what, how much we trust, and how
We tack onto our plans, “Lord willing,” as
A talisman against an overwrite,
But really, with a wink, expecting life’s
Predictability to bear us forth.
(Predicability? What’s that?) The twelve
Months past have shown the lie of that belief.
For we are dust; to dust we shall return.
Let this Ash Wednesday and the Lent to come
Well be our truest yet, beginning as
They have with such awful unmasking of
Our pride, our frailty, so much trust in self.
O Lord, we bring our sins, our weakness, and
Our troubles to Your throne. Have mercy, O
Our Savior and Redeemer. Hear our prayer.
2/19/21, first Friday of Lent