On April 1st 2020, I walked across an arable field near Bletchingdon. The whole field was parched and the ground cracked as far as you could see. There were no people, no roads, no sign of life and if I am honest I was feeling pretty desperate too. The dog was having a fine time, but for me it was a good place for a cry. So I had a good cry. And I came upon a small arrangement of sticks on the ground that made this cross. It stood out stark, grey, lifeless, as if it too were in mourning.
Earth to earth, ashes to ashes.
Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.
Ash Wednesday is a day set aside to contemplate our own emptiness, and right now it might feel like we have more empty days than anything else (running on empty, or the days just being endlessly empty).
When I feel empty, I can come to God with open hands, bringing nothing but my own brokenness. When I do that I know he will receive me in all my fragility and breath his new life into me.
We are dust and ashes, yes; but our deepest creation story tells of God, on his hands and knees, breathing his very Spirit into the dust from which we are made, (Genesis 2) and then, as he sits back and looks at his handiwork he says “it is very good”. (Genesis 1)
If you feel empty and your faith seems dried up today, come to God with empty hands, and remember that when he looks at you he sees you as “very good”.
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.