I got up early, starting my day out on the deck under the stars. The frog chorus was loud, now that there’s been rain. I know that frogs and other amphibians are most at risk of extinction due to climate change. It feels so reassuring to hear them singing so heartily. The frogs are still here.
Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is a day of prayer and fasting, a day to remember Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness, and my own. A day to share with others in a service of ashes, to remember our mortality and to repent for the sin of the world. Later, Guari and I will read T.S. Eliot’s poem “Ash Wednesday,” as we do every year.
This poem brilliantly portrays the dual Lenten focus on repentance and acceptance of our mortality. It expresses a sense of dust and ashes, of hopelessness, of powerlessness to change. These feelings resonate with many people facing the pain and challenges of the world today. But then, in the poem, surprisingly:
The lost heart quickens and rejoices
for the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
and the weak spirit quickens to rebel
for the bent goldenrod and the lost sea smell
quickens to recover the cry of quail
and the whirling plover.
The earth has the power to call us back to life, through the divine Spirit that moves through creation. In some mysterious way, the earth can provide us with an antidote to despair and can renew our spiritual connection with what is deepest within our souls. It is our context, our “ground of being,” through which the Spirit touches us, reminding us of what is real and important, who we are, and with whom we are connected.
Teach us to sit still,
even among these rocks,
our peace in His will.
And even among these rocks,
Sister, Mother, and spirit of the river, spirit of the sea
Suffer me not to be separated,
And let my cry come unto Thee.
Observing Ash Wednesday opens my heart and gives solace to my soul. The frog chorus calls me back to life.
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