Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Ash Wednesday 2019

Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your heart.  Joel 2:12
For too long -- approximately 10,000 years -- humanity has been on a wilderness march.  A wilderness marked by land grabs, dividing and conquering, oppressing the least, and profiteering off the wonders of the earth which belong to all humans. On the present trajectory the journey appears headed toward a fully scheduled rush to a horizon filled with smoke and ashes.

In Chinese medicine Five Element theory, all things arise out of water, earth, fire, metal, or wood.  As Charles A. Moss calls it: "Fire is the element associated with joy, happiness, and emotional protection of the heart. It is the energy that leads to open-heartedness, intimacy, generosity of spirit, optimism, joy, and the heart-felt expression of love."1

Love is what rises from the ash of what has been lost.  Like the mythological phoenix, love often appears to be dead and turned to ash. But love bursts into new life when we set aside our differences, our prejudices, our grudges, and our selfish attitudes to reconnect with life that is holy-grounded in the Presence of God in our physical lives.  God is not dead.  God is not ash.  God is alive in the human experiences where we seek and find intimacy, relationship, and joy. Christianity has an ancient historical connection to the earthly life cycle of death to life, winter to spring, ash to fire, absence to Presence.  

This Ash Wednesday rather than following the classical pathway of "lamenting our sinfulness and acknowledging our wretchedness" go spend sacred time in nature.  Reflect there upon what might be arising or bursting forth from the seed of love God placed in your heart at your birth.  Imagine that spark, and reach out for joy, optimism, and generosity of spirit to nurture and fan that spark into a full blown celebration of your own holy blazing display of heart-felt love.    

"It only takes a spark to get a fire going.  And soon all those around are warmed up by its glowing.  That's how it is with God's love, once you've experienced it. You spread God's love to everyone.  You want to pass it on." 

Questions for discussion, reflection, or journaling:

  1. What experience(s) in life have you had where it has it felt like ash that turns out to be a good thing?
  2. What do you feel when you sit quietly searching inside yourself for joy, happiness, or generosity of spirit?
  3. How many ways can you think of where you can connect yourself to love?

Prayer: God, we may be standing here with feet in the ashes of life, but we know this is not the end and from whatever place we stand love lives on, in us, through us, around us, and beside us.  Thank you.  Amen.

1. Moss, Charles A., Power of the Five Elements: The Chinese Medicine Path to Healthy Aging and Stress Resistance, c. 2010, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA. 

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