Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lenten Discipline

Lent is an interesting time for me. It has been a time of sacrifice for me for about 20 years or so, even though I did not identify in the least with Christianity for the majority of that time. Now that I am exploring my Christian beliefs, it has taken on new importance to me.

In the past, I have given things up for Lent. Coffee (never again, the family says), chocolate, sweets, video and FaceBook games, and many other things have made the cut list in the past. This year, however, I'm thinking of adding something instead of taking something away. I suppose I could look at it as "giving up procrastinating about my poetry," though, if I really wanted to.

I plan to write 46 poems for Lent, one for each day (including the Sundays). Because we might be moving during Lent, I might have to write ahead, or alternatively, catch up after the move. I am going to write the poems as a method of exploring my own beliefs and thoughts on sacrifice and luxury.

The Ashes

The smell of burning palm frond,
Dry and somewhat dusty from sitting on my shelf for a year,
Wafts about the kitchen.
It doesn't burn all at once,
Instead going in bits and pieces as I light it with a match over and over.
The ashes fall into the bowl.
When it's gone,
Reduced to just a pile of long, dark duskiness,
I tap it into the mortar.
Grinding the last of it
Into fine ashes, black and inky and thick,
I think of last year.
In goes the oil,
Adding a faint hint of earthy olive to the smoky scent,
And a thick slurry is made.
Soon these ashes,
So poignant a reminder of sacrifice and loss of luxury,
Will grace my forehead.
The season has begun,
A time of deep thought, of repentance for marks missed,
The season of Lent.
The dark days
After the Transfiguration, after the glory, after the wailing and sackcloth,
Are still with us.
Amen.
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