Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Word Life: On Ash Wednesday
I got my ashes today at church and I was thinking about the other night when I was at Michelle's house and she showed me the ashes of her grandmother, in a ziplock bag, on her altar. And I was transfixed, because I had never seen human ashes before. I had never seen Michelle's grandmother before either, but I had seen her pictures, and read Michelle's poems about her. As if articulating something I could not she offered to let me hold them. I couldn't speak, I just held out my hand. Michelle spoke some words, "...don't they look like shells..." I couldn't catch most of it, I just kept thinking, "This was a breathing, living human, just like me, once." And then, I thought of Ezekiel 37, the bones that dance, how G-d promised that none would die in vein. And I asked if I could read it to her, and Michelle said yes. And I did. And it felt good.
That passage had so much meaning to me because just the week prior I had attempted to breathe new life in it. To give it modern rhythm, rhyme and relevance. This is what I came up with. All you alternate-theists (including the atheists, yeah Mia, I'm calling you out) forgive the G-d language. Replace it with your own favorite term. Anyway, like to hear it hear it go:
From my bubble of excess
I peeped lands of rubble
Where children try to shake awake dead mothers
And families struggle
And G-d said to me,
“Can these people live?”
and I said, “Why ask me?
What have I to give?”
Said G-d, “Because it was with your resources,
And lack of attentiveness that they die.
So it is with your voice that I shall raise them high.”
And with that I was lifted in the sky,
Where I peeped down to see that which was dry,
Flooded with the veins of the ocean,
With my choked emotion,
No longer restrained,
I let go,
And watched the spirit of G-d flow from me,
Flooding the plain.
Like, “Bring it, this new song I gave you,
This paradise I created for you,
I meant it.
It was never my will that you’d be a slave who,
Had no place in it.”
And a voice shouted, “Preach!”
So from within I reach,
“Our purpose here, is to create a new song,
No matter what you fear, we must right the old and new wrongs,
Heed the path we must walk along,
And call to the past,
From which our strength is drawn,
And our angst moves on.”
And G-d said, “While you stand shocked,
At how the very thought,
Of your hands bring strife.
Don’t get caught, and worry not,
For my very words bring life.”
So I said, “You who thought you were dead,
You looking to the sky through your grandmother’s head,
Find the truth instead,
Placed in a grave,
And the bed,
Of a slave.
Sometimes so far we roam,
We can’t even go,
To the place we thought was home.
G-d’s presence we can know,
Through the speech of a poem.
Is Word Life.”