Ash Wednesday (Lent 1)

With a sigh and a muffled sob, I set down my ashes:
this fragile life, this fragile ego, these vain illusions
of all that I might do…might have…might be.

With a sigh and twinge of regret, I set down my ashes:
dreams I have chased, wounds I have clung to,
fears that have crowded out hope like weeds.

With a sigh and a longing cry, I pick up your healing oils:
humility to recognize your glory, purpose in the work
alongside one another, gratitude of breath & body.

With a sigh and a contrite spirit, I pick up your healing oils
to sustain this journey — for forty days, for a lifetime —
surrounded by grace and animated by love.

Let the ashes be ashes.
Let the dust be dust.
Let the healing begin.

On Joel 2:12 — “Yet even now, says the LORD,
return to me with all your heart, with fasting,
with weeping, with mourning.”

Lent 40 (Holy Saturday)

Let us be together
in the silence
of memories

. . .

I remember
the pleasure of his company
around a table with friends
bread crust crumbling
in our fingers

. . .

There was the day
I was sinking, overwhelmed
by the storm, but there he was —
as if catching me was
no big deal

. . .

We walked miles with him,
remember? God, how we walked!
The villages and the hills and the temples
and of course all those people all the time —
and Peter’s constant complaining, ha!

. . .

The last time I saw him
he was walking away from us
and he didn’t look back. He knew
what we couldn’t know. How I wish
that he had looked back.

Lent 39 (Good Friday)

You are
true to your word
even to the point of death.
Who really does that

You are
the First and Last
Word, the holy action
and now: the brutal

You are
the Word that heals
a salve from the tongue
a welcome whisper
in my ear

You are
the expression
of God’s word spoken
across chaos at

You are
an implanted word
a seed sown in secret hope
growing through turmoil
waiting to bloom

Lent 38 (Maundy Thursday)

Where to begin?

You are more than I can handle, O Christ,
and beyond my efforts of comprehension;
this I acknowledge as I sit with you at the table
as I wait with you in the deepening shadows
as I try pathetically to offer you an anointing.

What to say?

You are my highest hope and my deepest fear,
my impatient longing and my midnight despair;
this is true — and yet I must recognize that you
are not mine at all, not in the slightest, and
my relationship with you is a vain pipe dream.

How to go on?

In grief I vacillate between the choices that remain:
to love you in blissful ignorance that you are not really
mine to love; to reject you as though we never met
and settle for what good can be found; or to let you go
in full knowledge that the resulting wound may never heal.

What have you done to me?

Lent 37 (Lonely)

One last walk
before the very last one.
A stroll with only
the streetlights for company
a tin can for amusement
and thoughts
best left unsaid.
Take one walk alone
Brother Jesus
before the very last one.
One more time
just to look at the stars
and to listen for the laughter
from inside lit houses.
Don’t let your mind linger
on the loneliness
that comes with creating the space
in which others can love anew
but not you — you
will always be the one
who gave the gift of such space to others
not the one who lived within it.
Hands propped
in your pockets, shoulders
low in resignation for one last look
at all that you have loved.
Though it could not manage to love you
it will glorify you into a lovely idol
that will last for centuries
inspiring art and war.
You will be like Helen,
won’t that be wonderful Jesus?
One last walk, slowly
no need to rush.
Tomorrow will be full.
it will rain —
that would be fitting
for the weariness
that awaits.
One last long walk
in loneliness.
It is almost done.