Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ash Wednesday

by Robert Herrick

IS this a fast, to keep
The larder lean ?
And clean
From fat of veals and sheep ?

Is it to quit the dish
Of flesh, yet still
To fill
The platter high with fish ?

Is it to fast an hour,
Or ragg’d to go,
Or show
A downcast look and sour ?

No ; ‘tis a fast to dole
Thy sheaf of wheat,
And meat,
Unto the hungry soul.

It is to fast from strife,
From old debate
And hate ;
To circumcise thy life.

To show a heart grief-rent ;
To starve thy sin,
Not bin ;
And that’s to keep thy Lent.

And so the Lenten journey begins. Just 13 of us at the 8.00 Eucharist (there will be more tonight, when the Archdeacon, fresh from his role as an impetus for spring cleaning in the curate’s house, is coming to preach)…but to be honest that was about all I could take.
There was something almost unbearably moving about marking each of those well-known foreheads with the cross, the mark of mortality black as an assault on the pale skin. So many of them are elderly…Last year, T. was one of them. Now he is gone.
But later it was my privilege to offer them the bread of life.
All shall be well.

1 comment:

Songbird said...

Thank you, Kathryn. I didn't know that Herrick poem.
We were five at 7:30 a.m., a service we've never had before. It was moving to stand around the table with my children and my colleague and one church member and to have someone else mark my forehead, something that wouldn't have happened tonight when more of my congregation will gather.
Blessings to you this day, my friend.