Ash Wednesday, Lent, Reflectionary

Charred Hosannas

Sunday before last, someone sitting close wore cologne that irritated a tickle in my throat. In these first months of my unintentional retirement from parish ministry, I have moments of missing the refuge of the chancel, where we have become allergy-sensitive, even ordering stamen-free Easter lilies.

When Zechariah saw the angel, he was startled and overcome with fear. (Luke 1:12, CEB)
Yet Zechariah went into the Lord’s sanctuary for the hour of burning incense, to thicken the air with scent, as pungent as the cloud that startled me the first time I burned the previous year’s palms in my fireplace.
blackened-hosannasSweet and acrid, it filled my head: caramelized palm, charred hosannas.
You can buy a pouch of tidy ashes from Amazon – I have – but I long for those inefficiently rendered fronds, smoldering on a piece of foil while I sat overcome near the fireplace grate.

Holy One, may the fragrance of Your presence never cease to startle and overcome us. Amen.


I’m reading and blogging about Luke for Lent. Want to read along? I’m using the Common English Bible; tomorrow I’ll be reading Luke 1:26-56. Full schedule can be found here.