Ash Wednesday

1 - 

When the garden was lush,
still brimming with life and beauty,

rich in nutrients and possibility,

God gathered the soil of the earth,

and breathed us into life.

Not a man - an Adamah.
Earth creature.

A being of the soil. 

First a lonely one.

Then love called for two,

differentiated and distinct,

but also 
flesh of my flesh,

bone of my bone.

Both, soil of the earth,

Kin to all that lives. 

Created very good, indeed.

From dust we were created,

And to dust we will return.

This refrain calls us back to our gritty and humble beginnings.

It jolts us awake by reminding us of death.

The inevitable returning home.

When the time comes,

the garden, the body of the earth that birthed us,

will welcome us back like the forgiveness of God,

embracing us in ways that will transform even the most cruel among us

into sources of nourishment for lives to come.

It doesn’t make sense, this grace.

For generations, some have worked feverishly to sever us from our family tree,

hacking over and over at the roots of finitude and flesh,
destroying everything and everyone that tells the story

of who we really are - 

vulnerable and precarious creatures,

hungry for relationship,

starved in isolation,

not set above our earthly kin,

but set within a delicate web of interconnection.
So much has been destroyed 
betraying this origin story.

From dust we were created,

and to dust we will return.

But we don’t have to wait.

We cannot evade death,

but we can choose life

in these fleeting precious days.

We can mend, 

we can protect,

we can repent,

we can return.

If we just pay attention,

to our bodies,

each other,

the birds 
and the air,

we can recognize the holy groans

of the earth calling us home.

- Rev. M Barclay, enfleshed

2 - It’s not at all about the need to think of ourselves as awful.
For many of us, that already comes too easy.
If you don’t need a smear across your forehead
because you wear it on your heart every day
hear these words:
You are not awful.
God doesn’t think you’re awful.
You were not created awful.
There’s nothing divine that is born from believing you are awful.
If this is hard for you to accept, to believe, to hold deeply in your smeared heart,
spend some time with that this season.
You have been lied to.
Unlearn those prayers that make you small.
Come alive again before you remember death.
But then, when you do,
when you remember you are good,
don’t settle for believing the journey is complete.
It was never only yours to begin with.
Let it lead you to questions of us:
Why do we,
so good,
turn on each other?
Why do we,
so good,
allow for evil to flourish
through white supremacy
or patriarchy
or poverty
or queer and transphobia?
Created good.
Created good.
Created good.
But collectively invested in evil.
In its stories.
In its profits.
In its familiar.
To re-member
is a collective occasion.
A communal acknowledgment
of the choices before us.
Let the remember-ing
that we are dust
and to dust we will return
be a reckoning with our inseparable lives and deaths
be an apology for all we have chosen instead of each other
be a grounding in the promise
that we come from holy soil.
Holy dirt.
Holy dust.
Created good.
In need of tending.
Rich with potential for beauty.
Hungry for nutrients.
Wild and unruly.
The dust births new life.
The dust receives the dead.
In the dust we find each other
or eventually.

- Rev. M Barclay, enfleshed