Ashes: a Lenten Discussion

By Cynthia Terwillinger

I listened to a talk by an astrophysicist talking about the elements that were discovered on an astroid upon which one of our satellites landed. He said that they found the elements in that astroid, that had passed through start dust, to be the same elements that are in the human body. Ashes to Ashes and dust to dust took on a whole different meaning to me. We are all stardust. Ash Wednesday became a mystical experience rather than a ritual that I really didn't understand.

Each Lenten Season we begin with a lament that is basically symbolic. This Lenten Season—this Valentine's Day—we faced a lament that tore at our hearts. Our nation was reduced once again to mourning the loss of children filled with bright promise. We plunged again into that darkness that seems to have no end. Our bishop sent out a lament that he asked be read from each pulpit on the first Sunday in Lent. 

He said in part,  "Any attempt to speak of the mystery of suffering and evil during this Lenten Season will prove to be unsatisfying. Personally, I wish Jesus had said, "Come unto me and I will spare you from these things." But He didn't. Instead He said, "I am with you always." How we need the assurance of His presence now! How we need to hear him say once more, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted; Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."

It seems that we may be led by children out of the darkness. I hear them saying that it must stop and that they want to say they made a difference and will be the last  witnesses of a mass murder in an American school. I am a willing follower, lead on, oh children of light.

Cynthia is a participant in the Lent Incarnate study and a Methodist lay servant/lay speaker. She lives in Tryon, NC, and attends Columbus United Methodist Church.