Ash Wednesday, Poetry

Ash Wednesday Morning

Day’s beginning before the dawn:
Hurrying with children to dress and eat,
To feed the dogs and zip the backpacks,
To make the holy journey together.

We entered church just after seven
And worked together to set the table:
A multi-colored cloth with fishes;
A purple-black candle I made myself;
Some stones from last year;
Dried flowers from last Sunday;

And then the ashes in a tarnished silver dish.

(I liked its look,
Worn and softened by time and hands.)

My children, marked with signs of God,
Went on to school and friends and teachers.
So few understood the mark they wore–
Would I have known, long, long ago?

A Baptist girl who “didn’t do” Lent
Now makes the sign on hands and heads.
She makes the sign and speaks the words:
Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.


This is a re-post from three years ago at Set Free. For some reason that day insisted on a poem rather than a report.

Tonight we will observe the same actions in a different congregation, my daughter and I. She thinks it's strange we'll have pancakes right before, but I explained that in some past year, it must have seemed impossible to get people to come out two nights in a row, or perhaps a storm combined the events, and then it became "we've always done it this way."

Whatever your day holds, may it include a time for reflection on the coming season and the blessings of community to face it together.

4 thoughts on “Ash Wednesday Morning”

  1. A blessed day to you Songbird. I loved both poems, yesterday and today. May your heart hold this season lightly.

  2. Beautiful! Growing up (well, 7 years anyway) in southern Connecticut, we had enough Catholic kids that the ashes on Wednesday were a common sight. Minnesota also. I think (with no hard evidence) that we Congregationalists are coming back to some of the liturgical things. However, in Big Taupe Church, the service is scheduled to last 25 minutes so the choir can rehearse. It hardly seems worth the trek. We’ll see.

  3. Auntie K, given that we have AA coming in at 7:30 to use the same room, we’ll be finished in 30 minutes, more or less. So many things to consider! Come join us, if you like, because we do have parking. 🙂

  4. Beautiful poem. Back when I was a UCC Congregational kid, only the Catholics had the funny mark on their forehead. I don’t think I ever attended an Ash Wed. service until I moved to my small NH town where my UCC church (Congregational and Baptist merger) held one every year. My churches did Tenebrae on Maundy Thursday, but not Ash Wednesday.

Leave a Reply