Ashes for Love

Ashes for Love February 14, 2018

To prove my holiness both to God and to myself, I got up really early and forewent the morning blog to go to church. In so doing I nearly made Matt late for the liturgy and had to run around all by myself unlocking doors and mixing the Ash into some kind of paste that would stick to anyone. Didn’t wake the children up to bring them along because I’m not That holy, just a little bit holy, signified by going to church while everyone else sleeps in.

Isn’t it funny–for ordinary, basically good people to rush off to church at an unbiddable hour for the chance to admit to being so far gone that only the death of the Son of God would be enough to save the day. You wouldn’t look at the little knot of people huddled in their cold pews this morning and thought, ‘You’re right. Of all the people who can’t get their lives together, these are the ones. What terrible sinners.’

Or maybe, if you were the ordinary, upstanding woke person of today you might think, ‘They should be the ones repenting. They are awful.’ But you wouldn’t like the substance of the repentance. We didn’t kneel and say sorry for having the wrong opinions, for not buying local and thinking global.

So it seems that Valentine’s Day is eclipsed in every way by ash and fatigue. Not a single card has been cut out in this house, and there’s no chocolate to be found because it was all consumed in a frenzy over the weekend. Who has time for flowers and candy when there are sins to be sorry about, and death to announce. ‘You’re going to die and your body degrade to ash,’ doesn’t make me think of romance.

Indeed, death is the great enemy of all human loves. When I think that at some point I might, or rather, will certainly be separated by time and space from my husband, children, parents, friends, but more pressingly from the person who has always been in church as long as we have been there, waiting at 7:30 every Sunday morning with cookies and chocolate milk, eager to grasp hold of every baby I was carrying, every toddler who lost her shoes, every grubby face, who has always been there no matter what–it’s hard to choke down the word Love. If anyone ever loved anyone, it’s been this person loving my children. But today she’s in a nursing home, her frail figure languishing in the depths of an armchair that seems too enormous for her tiny frame.

It’s not just me that can’t get my life together. It’s literally everyone. The substance of life can’t be held long enough for love to prevail. It’s too frail. The great chasm of death looms and swallows us each, dividing soul from body, heart from mind, person from person.

Why wouldn’t you rush to church and sit there, hanging on for dear life to the only person who can do anything about the great catastrophe of death? For the sake of love, why wouldn’t you go be loved by the one who absorbed the hideous perversion of death and made it possible, in rising again, for you to be with the ones you love most and best? And even with him?

Its the greatest love story–the girl is lost and dying, the guy abandons everything he has to rush out and get her. There you sit, ash covered, sad, facing the inevitable, but then, when it seems like all is lost, and you’re only holding a handful of dust, the music sweeps up, the table is set, you get to wear the thing you look amazing in, and your greatest enemy is completely destroyed. What’s not to love?

Happy Valentines Day!

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