Matthew 3.13 - An Ash Wednesday Lament

Matthew 3.13
An Ash Wednesday Lament

This is the season of ashes.
Of confession,
of mourning.
So I wonder why I find you
beside me
here at the riverside.
Why are you,
of all people,
seeking this bath of remorse?
This washing of guilt?
This immersion of grief?
What sits heavy
upon your heart?
What sins?
And what need for repentance?
Was it that baby
who died in her mother's arms last night?
Or that queer boy
bloodied and crying on his playground?
Or that woman
hushed, bruised, and still in the pew?
Are you here
to say you are sorry?
For these?
Or for the rest?
And what of me?
Why am I here
stripped, naked
and seeking the water?
Because I hold
and pain,
squeezing that sharp glass in my hand
until it bleeds.
Because I am angry with you.
I'm so sorry,
but I am angry with you.
And yet,
here you are,
willing to be baptized,
to follow me deep
into the wet coolness.
Let us, then, hold hands
our bloody hands
and go down together.
To drown
and rise up
to a new beginning.
You and I.
And forgiven.

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5 thoughts on “Matthew 3.13 - An Ash Wednesday Lament”

  1. I was going to say that this nicely illustrates acquisition through participation (two metaphors of learning), but your poem makes me realise how inappropriate the term 'acquisition' is in both contexts. What works better?

    Gain through participation?
    Enrichment through participation?

    A bit self-centred still, perhaps.

    Appropriation through participation?

    Bit Lutheran.

    Revelation through participation?

    Bit cliched.

    How about...

    Understanding through participation

  2. No - woke up with this nagging me - too absolute. How about...

    Finding meaning through participation, and
    the will to participate in meaningful ways

    Or, as my friends tell me, I need to get out more...

  3. I really appreciate this.

    I am reminded of David Bazan's 'When We Fell'. He's intensely cross-examining God for the state of human affairs, and at the end he says "If you knew what would happen / And made us just the same / Then you my Lord can take the blame."

    And I cannot help but wonder if that's at least part of the mystery of the cross... The cross as God's lament for the mess of humanity. God's own atonement for his own creation.

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