Ashes and Oil

"...to bestow on them a crown of beauty

   instead of ashes,

the oil of joy

   instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise

   instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,

    a planting of the Lord

   for the display of his splendor."

- Isaiah 61:3b
 

The sound in this place is amazing. I think there is music.

In my hands is a plate of ashes and oil.

Everyone is stirring while my heartbeat is in my ears.

I begin to drag my finger in the plate of ashes and oil.

A sweet, could-be-my-daughter, is quickly before me. Large, expectant eyes looking straight into mine,

As I hold this plate of ashes and oil.

Embrace your frailty and put your hope in Jesus,” I say as I slowly mark a cross

From the plate of ashes and oil.

'…a crown of beauty…the oil of joy'

Friends come up one by one.  All ages.  All with eyes looking for God.

Between us a plate of ashes and oil.

I call them by name thinking how God called them Beloved before they were ever born.

'They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. '     

There is a space between us as we look at each other.  These people that know me and my ugly well lean in to meet me because they love me still.

Others come to me too.  

I find myself looking into new eyes, ones I have never met.  

Between us a plate of ashes and oil.

This time I find myself leaning to meet them because knowing my own brokenness and seeing the same in their eyes, I understand and love them still.  

'…a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.'

When I am home later that night I wonder, in my daily life do I look someone in the eyes and lean out to them.

Father, help me to feel these bonds held with ashes and oil.