Feasting on God’s Gifts; Fasting in Sorrow
2012 Presbyterians for Earth Care Lenten Devotional
Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Creator of all, we stand at this in-between place, recalling the advent wonder yet standing on the road that leads to the passion and cross. The Book of Common Prayer tells us that we are ash, dust, earth. Let us pause and find afresh the meaning of those words—a meaning that links us, earth, ash and dust, to that all-that-was-and-is-and-ever-will-be. …Words that place us neither over nor under all of your good works, simply pieces of your great whole.
Ah, the feasting is over. Mardi Gras has come and gone, the fat from Fat Tuesday has moved from lips to hips where it joins the Christmas cookies, New Year’s salty treats and Twelfth Night’s lovely crepes. It is Ash Wednesday with its solemn assembly and dusky cross on our foreheads. Our Lenten journey, this year will lead us to thoughts on how to feast from the table God sets before us in creation and how to fast from the things in our lives that tear at that lovely repast. But, for a moment let us consider the liminal space that comes between any two things. In Latin, liminal is the word for threshold. Ash Wednesday is that Day. It is the time/space between the feast and the fast but is neither. An image that explains liminality is that of a trapeze artist. Picture the person “flying” through the air and then letting go of the bar but still far from the bar that is coming from the other direction. That moment when one thing is gone and the next has not arrived. In the air. Not here and not there. Ash Wednesday is that day. There is the power and beauty of creation and there is our use/misuse of that. Between the two is liminal space and an invitation to pause and know, to hear the whisper of the still small voice, to let go of human “doing,” to wait.
Do we really have to do this? Can’t we just buy daffodils and wait for the Easter Bunny? Advent is so nice. Now you are asking us to wear the soot of last year’s palms on our faces, marking us as different—as fellow travelers with The Twelve. Keep us from spinning off into the activities that buffer us from feeling the pain of the journey. Hold us, each day in the liminal space that reminds us of timeless earth, dust and ash.
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