A Poem-Prayer for Lent

Marked by ashes we step out in to the wilderness,

Marked by our failures,

Marked by our mortality,

Marked by the ashy dust that reminds us of the fires and pains that we have felt in our lives,

Marked by the cross that gathers all of our ash up to You.

We follow You out to the wild wilderness,

We leave behind our comfort, our familiar, our safety,

We leave behind our notions of self-sufficiency,

We leave behind our rightness and our righteousness.

We know that the wilderness is not safe. In the wilderness between Egypt and the Promised Land, the Israelites experienced fatigue, frustration, and despair. They turned to complaint and anger. In the wilderness after being cast out by Sarah and Abraham, Hagar watched in anguish as her son began to perish and she could not save him. In this wilderness a hungry and thirsty Jesus encountered temptation,

Temptation of self-sufficiency,

Temptation of power,

Temptation of wealth and prestige,

Temptations to take the easy way out, to act as though God does not exist or as  though God lays no claim on our actions.

The wild and dangerous temptations, frustrations, and despairs lurk in wait for us in the wilderness. We meet them each step of this journey. But we know God waits for us in the wilderness too,

Bread from heaven rains down to feed us so that we are strengthened for the journey,

God leads us to previously undiscovered sources of water that cool the scorching heat,

Jesus reminds us that temptations do not mean failure but instead opportunity to re-discover God and ourselves.

We meet in the wilderness the wild grace of God that reminds us why we choose to go into the wilderness,

So that we can meet God again anew,

So that we may be changed by the grace that we experience afresh,

So that at the end of 40 days, when our journey of lent is over, we can walk out of the dead wilderness singing with our whole lives:

“God is alive!”

“Ashes turn to new life!”

“Come, and rise from the dead! Come, and live in the grace of Easter!”

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