Eternal God, on this day of ashes,

even before they touch my forehead, I can taste them in my mouth.

The taste of things I should not have said, of my own foolishness,

of pride, unkindness, of ignorance. 

I feel them in my throat, the silence where I should have spoken

and the grief that lives there. 

I feel their rumble in my stomach, the upheaval of ashy injustice

that I too easily banish with a cookie or a pile of chips. 

This day, I pray, let the ashes lead to repentance,

and then to more…

In Lent’s stillness, may an image of your fullness for all of us arise.

In the name and path of Jesus, Amen. 

Mary Austin is the pastor of Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church, a Presbyterian Church just far enough from Washington, DC.  She is a contributor to The Road to Hallelujah  and the author of Meeting God at the Mall.

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