From the second floor window I look down over the back yard. I can see the nubby beginnings of my garden, straining for a new start. I was able to cut two-thirds of the flowers back before the snow came this winter. I wasn’t ready for the early of the snow or the freezing of the ground. Soon I will have to make it right. Soon. But not yet. I see the dead stalks of that neglected portion—graying bits of stubble, snaky weeds trembling up against the cold wind.
Looking down I can see, too,  that the top of the Pussy Willow is beginning to bud. The ends of a few straggly branches look like Q-tips—those tightly wound cotton swabs sway back and forth on their leggy branches. If I stood on the ground below this tree and peered up through the branches, I would not see these furry caterpillars preparing to fluff out. Only the very tip-top—where the sun falls warmest–sports these showy nibs. I peer down from the window and know that in just a few days that tree will be engulfed in a halo of softness.
I have been doing yoga—this renewed Lenten discipline whispering the growing softness of this aging body to the walls. These limbs don’t bend like the willow’s anymore. Each year at this time I am pulled back into this fluid meditation—a moving prayer. I speak the words of the scripture and somehow these ancient words help these rusty bones glide into the poses. And the gliding of the body helps the words come smooth—oil this dusty memory.
Last night I received the ashes on my hand. Pastor said this way is better.
The ashes are for me to see, she said. To remind me of my sin. Not for everyone else.
I missed the words, the pressure on my head, the ashes falling on my clothes. But as I cradled that sullied hand in my lap, as I dipped the bread in the cup with ashen fingers–it all made sense.
But today, I stand in the light of the window wanting to hide. As I move my body it feels the desire to be something else. Down to the marrow it wants to be something better, something stronger, something…more…
I wish I could stand under the umbrella limbs of the willow tree and forget about the budding soft on the uppermost parts. It doesn’t feel like spring. I sit on my mat at heart center and recite the words…
…and in him all things hold together. (Col. 1:17b)
Do they? And will he? Hold me together?
 I lower my hands to my knees and breathe in…glance down. It’s still there—just a faint outline. The shadow of a circle in the middle of the palm of my hand: what’s left of my ashes. I put finger to palm and imagine another’s—pierced.
And I feel the deep rest of the knowing. Yes, he will. Yes, he does. He holds me together. He holds me.
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross… (Col. 1:19-20)

Sharing with Emily today:

And Bonnie:



  1. says

    How evocative to smudge the palm of the hand, which lacks the hardness of the forehead, thus allowing the touch the greater impression there. The pressure of the thumb on the center touches the lifeline. From the wound did life flow out, and so the ash recalls the color of grief until healing.

  2. says

    This is a call to slow it down, and that is a call I get quite often. I pray I can answer that call more often than not.
    I read Maureen’s comment while in this box…beautiful and hugs your beautiful words too.

  3. says

    Laura — I planted some bulbs last year in the winter of my discontent. And sure enough, they have pushed through and a few days ago i have some flowers.

    Budding indeed.

  4. says

    Love it – I’m teaching prayer and yoga at my church and love the way the movement of the body helps focus the mind and heart for prayer. (prayerandyoga.com if you’re interested) Thanks for the thoughtful post!

  5. says

    OK, OK, we must have been separated at birth. God is whispering yoga to me, too, but first, for Lent, I’m only allowed to sit for 15 minutes to an hour. I’m trying to get well from my shingles, and He sad no new stuff … until Easter. But I’m very intrigued.

  6. says

    You have a gift for expressing this beautiful world you live in — the place in between – where God is moving within you and you are moving within Him. In your everyday life, you reach for Him, in whatever posture you take. Even in wondering how it would happen, He is holding you together — and bring us right along. Thank you, Laura.

  7. says

    Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)

    I have linked to this post at the Moonboat today. I’m trusting God to hold me together, too.


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