Ash Wednesday

Today we remember that we are dust. I was thinking about that in the shower today, thinking of these arms in the earth, shuddering silently into aimless molecules. We are but dust, until he makes us more. Thanks be to the God of our salvation who does not forget us in our death but retrieves us for himself. And in giving ourselves to him, we find our true nature, the one that persists in strength and dignity and honour.

This is the season when we rescind everything we have acquired to discover what we were meant to keep all along. Whether it be something abstract (like confidence) or something concrete (like meat on Fridays), we know by the giving-up which are the things we have been given in the generosity of our Father and which are the things we have stolen from under his grace. Personally, I'm rather miserable about it all. But then, there has been an undercurrent of misery beneath all of my license for a while now, and I would trade much for a clean heart. I would trade all I have to know that there is nothing standing between me and my God.

And so I take this day, though I missed all the morning services and will miss all the evening ones as well, to pray this Psalm:

Have mercy on my, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins and blot out my iniquity.

Create in my a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.

...You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.


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