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Ash Wednesday Poem


In our Ash Wednesday service this week, we explored a poem by Rev. M. Barclay. The words are providing inspiration and guidance to me as I navigate this Lenten season. I’m sharing it with you today in case it can help you too.


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.