Thursday, February 15, 2018


There's been a photo in the news today of a woman at the high school where the school shooting yesterday took place.  Among the other photos it caught my attention because she's been to church for Ash Wednesday; she has a cross drawn on her forehead with ashes. 

Here's the poem I wrote yesterday after getting home from church.  We were reminded that we are dust.  We didn't need a gunman to remind us again.


I’m here for the ashes.
I’m here for the dust,
for remembering that that is what I am,
and that that is where I will return.

I’m here for the ashes,
the remains of what I loved,
the palms from last year,
and carefully preserved,
precious dust.
Those palms mattered
too much to toss their remains away.
They became today’s ashes.
And that’s why I’m here.

I’m here for the ashes,
for the reminder that though my flesh is solid now,
it will die.
The smudge on my forehead
will wash away,
but I will still be mortal,
headed for my expiration date.

I’m here for the ashes,
so smear them on me,
whispering as you do,
remember that you are dust.”
Precious dust,
but dust nonetheless,
a temple filled with the Holy Spirit
that one day will fall

I’ll leave with the ashes,
and through my day I’ll see others
with dusty marks on their faces,
as they too have been reminded
of what they are.
Beautiful and impermanent,
valuable and temporary,
needing to be
swept up
with a broom.

There are other places to get
roses and accolades,
work and fulfillment,
conversation and snacks,
but this is the only place I know
where they are imposing ashes today
that’s why I’m here.
For the ashes.

Ruth, from


Anonymous said...

Did you notice that a picture of yesterday's school shooting was of a woman who appeared to have an ashen cross on her forehead? Ashes indeed ...

Ruth said...

Yes - notice the first paragraph of this post. That detail really struck me.