The party is over,
the streamers are packed away,
a hint of grease remains on pancake griddle as it rests in the dish drainer,
and the plastic baby King Jesus sits on the counter with a few cake crumbs dotting his belly.
This morning we arise,
to sackcloth and mourning,
to the very earth-boundedness of our lives,
reminded of our mortal selves.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, mixed with oil of anointing.
We brush back our hair to present our foreheads,
or hold out the back of our wrinkled smooth hands
for the mark of a smudged cross,
a symbol of all of who we are and who we are not.
A mark that invites our whole selves to return to God,
to repent, to release…
and crack open our tired, aching, chained up hearts
to the mystery and healing hope of God.
Oh God of life and death,
of forgiveness and blessing,
we know we are dust, and to dust we shall return,
and in the midst of all of that,
we return to You.
Come, O God, make haste to save us.