Thursday, March 3, 2022


The imposition of ashes has been observed in RC churches for many many years, but not so long ago it began to be offered in my church also, a protestant church. Some were uncomfortable with it, but I was open to the experience. I wanted to see how it felt, how I reacted. 

Below is a poem that I'm just drafting. I will want to come back to it, but I offer this much to you for this month's consideration.


They crumble 
And sift through fingers
Soft as feathers
A mote in the eye

They are the leavings
Cindery grey
Greasy black
A bit of grit

They surprise me
the way they seep 
into my wrinkles
my skin -- alien

They speak of deep grief
Utter hopelessness
This little pile of elements
fragments on the wind

They lack spark
They mark an end -- yet
I come willingly

They mark truth
They slow my breath
They lower my eyes
They repeat

We all encounter them
Walk through them
And with God's grace
Some day  

© Karen Eastlund

Thanks to Ruth Hersey for hosting today and giving us this topic. It challenged me and I almost skipped, but perhaps the ashes themselves enabled this bud.  Find other posts in our spiritual journey group here.


  1. Karen, thank you for your post. I'm glad you wrote something. When I first saw your comment on Ruth's post, you hadn't written yet.

    Your poem is powerful--it explores the physical ashes as well as the truth and grace that can come from this and other spiritual exercises. I like this stanza especially today:

    "They mark truth
    They slow my breath
    They lower my eyes
    They repeat"

    Thank you. Blessings to you this Lenten season.

  2. Karen, utterly beautiful - worth the little wait to read and savor. You capture many truths in your words - the greasiness of ashes, how they're everywhere and into everything, their other-ness ("alien" - love that). Most of all I love your honesty about the challenge and how you rose from what might have been the ashes of despair to create something so powerful and meaningful. In those last lines, you point toward the bright hope in the heart of the whole observation...rising again. It is the very heart of the faith. Thanks be to God for the gift of grace. Thank you for your courage and the gift of your words - and your heart.

  3. I love this, Karen! I'm glad you didn't skip!

  4. I'm glad you decided to write, ruminating on the meaning of the symbol of ashes. That last stanza is the hope we need, the hope we place in the resurrection.

  5. There are so many gorgeous sensory images in your beautiful poem about ashes; thank you for this! I love these two lines especially,
    "They mark an end -- yet
    I come willingly"
    making me think of how important it is to live through pain, grief, to share compassion with all.