Ashes to Ashes

from the archives, my friends. I cannot say my love any better as I hold ashes in my hands tonight…
I have Jesus’ fingerprints on my head.  
We’ve just returned from Ash Wednesday service, and I have been touched by His hand. We are entering the Lenten season. As with every year, I am giddy with gratitude.
As much as I love Contemporary Worship, the keeping of the traditions of the Church move me in unspeakable ways. The heaviness of hundreds of years of hearts and minds standing in the same place that I am settles deeply within me. Such kinship. And my heart longs for those deep reaching roots.
Tonight I stood in line with my brothers and sisters and waited for my Pastor to make a cross of ashes on my head. My two children stood in front of me, and when I heard her speak the words over Jeffrey, a lump formed in my throat
Jeffrey, you are dust and to dust you will return.”
It made me shudder to hear these words spoken to my baby. And in that moment I was keenly aware of the sacrifice that has been made on my behalf.
As I took my place to receive the ashes, my pastor ceased to be my friend. Instead, she became the hands of Jesus. She called me by name, because He loves me.
Laura, you are dust and to dust you will return.”
The intimacy of the moment took my breath away, and I felt His breath on my cheek. The ashes fell onto the front of my shirt as I walked back to the pew. A cascade of sorrow, of guilt and shame. And I wondered if His blood fell in such a pattern. When it struck the earth, did the soil moan with sorrow? Or did it rejoice at the prophecy fulfilled? Somehow, I have such difficulty finding joy in that moment. Only shame. Because I am unworthy. Oh, my God, I am unworthy.
Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornamented robe she was wearing. She put her hand on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.”— (2 Samuel 13:19)
This is the sorrow I feel as I enter into Lent. The sorrow of shame. But mingled with this…something else. I ask God over and over: Why did you have to do it this way? Wasn’t there a better way? And then I am flooded with gratitude and I understand.
Lent is a time of contemplation and self-denial. It is a time to shelter under His wings and experience His might and His goodness. To me, all of earth seems to pause and breathe more deeply. 
Oh, Dear Ones, we are waiting. Sunday is coming.


  1. says

    It’s interesting…I’ve never been in a church that focused much on Lent…never an Ash Wednesday partaker….yet this year God is whispering to me, wooing me…I don’t yet know what to expect….so I shall press in and abide.

  2. says

    For the last year I’ve felt a yearning in my soul. For something more. Something deeper. A searching for roots and history and tradition. A need for peace. I was raised in a church, yet when I visit here, my heart does not want to leave. It finds rest in your words. It wants that kinship you describe so well.

  3. says

    May we not just remember in this season or time but spend our lives reflecting and emulating the sacrifice thru how we live for Him each day. Taking each moment given to us to preach the Gospel of Jesus, loving brethren.And rejoicing in the peace, joy and love we have in Him.
    Living and Loving Christ

  4. says

    Dust. I am dust. To dust I will return.

    But…to those of us who are but dust, there is the miraculous hope of resurrection, through the Firstborn from among the dead.

    May we live within the tension of dust and resurrection these next few weeks.

  5. says

    I was not baptized until I was 50 (I’m 57 now). That same year was the first time I received the mark of ash, and I was moved beyond words. When I got home and looked in the mirror at the sign on my forehead, tears fell. And I am hopeful, because though the cross became smudged, like my forehead, He rose again to live in and of and through us.

  6. says

    Laura, thank you so much for this. Blogging has brought so much to my life – such richness. I was never part of a church that practiced Lent. I began to learn about it last year, as I read different posts. It is a beautiful practice, a poignant reminder – and you have made it live for me.
    I so appreciate your deep love for the Savior, Laura. He is so worthy.

  7. says

    The depth of your love for the Lord is so evident and contagious as I read your words written here today Laura! I can feel the Spirit of God moving within me to move forward in seeking to know Him more.

  8. says

    A favorite pastor of mine preached a sermon once called “Sunday’s coming.” It’s Friday, he said, but Sunday’s coming. Your post reminded me of that sermon. Of the tears and the chills and the hope. It’s SUNDAY that gives our dust glory. It’s SUNDAY that means we can live in our messes and be redeemed.

    Where does the time go? Oh, I am so weary, I want to stop now…

  9. says

    laura, you have quietened me.

    you have spoken to my heart. you have brought Him a little closer.

    i stand alongside you.

    much love,

    ps- congratulations on being selected over at Mary’s place. i celebrate with you. i rejoice for you. i know that God is at work through you.

  10. says

    The ancient traditions of the faith connect us to those who came before us in a way that is rich and true. Ashes, broken bread, cleansing water. All of it turns my heart toward the cross and bows my head.
    These traditions are

    Your words bless. Indeed.

  11. says


    This year I attended my first Ash Wednesday service. It was powerful! I, too, like Contemporary worship and am quite comfortable in that setting. So I was surprised, blown away even, by the power of celebrating in a more liturgical context.

    Sadness and hope seem to provide a good backdrop for this pre-Easter season.

  12. says

    I can see why you posted this again. We journey through Lent at my church, but we don’t do ashes on Ash Wednesday. I was probably a teen when I last received them and I know I never really understood (or appreciated) all that they symbolize.

    I agree that contemporary worship is great, but there is such power in traveling the same path that generations of faithful have tred before us.

    Praise God that Sunday is coming!

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