I resume the thread of Sounding the Seasons, the sonnet sequence I have been posting here, with this sonnet for Ash Wednesday, posted a day or two early, in case people would like to use it in their liturgy or private prayers on the day. As I set about the traditional task of burning the remnants of last Palm Sunday’s palm crosses in order to make the ash which would bless and sign our repentance on Ash Wednesday, I was suddenly struck by the way both the fire and the ash were signs not only of our personal mortality and our need for repentance and renewal but also signs of of the wider destruction our sinfulness inflicts upon God’s world and on our fellow creatures, on the whole web of life into which God has woven us and for which He also cares. So some of those themes are visted in this sonnet. As we go through Lent I will post sonnets reflecting on each of the three temptations of Christ in the wilderness, as well as for Mothering Sunday and the Feast of the Annunciation which also falls in Lent. As before I am grateful to Margot Krebs Neale for the remarkable commentary on these poems which she is making through her photographs. As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the title or the Play Button
Receive this cross of ash upon your brow,
Brought from the burning of Palm Sunday’s cross.
The forests of the world are burning now
And you make late repentance for the loss.
But all the trees of God would clap their hands
The very stones themselves would shout and sing
If you could covenant to love these lands
And recognise in Christ their Lord and king.
He sees the slow destruction of those trees,
He weeps to see the ancient places burn,
And still you make what purchases you please,
And still to dust and ashes you return.
But Hope could rise from ashes even now
Beginning with this sign upon your brow.
6 responses to “Ash Wednesday”
I sent this to my 21-yr-old daughter, who is a Christian, politics student and passionate campaigner for the environment. She texted me ‘amazing, amazing, amazing’. I agree. Thank you.
Thanks Joanna, I’m glad the poem connected for your daughter. It’s had a lot of ‘hits’ so I think it has expressed what a lot of people are feeling. your blog post was very timely as we are fiving up meat for lent.
Startlingly fresh look at a familiar theme – call to repentance from a new angle. I really appreciate this one!
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beautiful poem …..topical and spiritual , so well blended.
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