WEEK 1: Scripture from Matthew 5: When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them …
Reflection on words from Beatitudes
Wed, Feb 17 (Ash Wednesday): SAW
To see. To be seen.
Today we burn palm leaves from last year’s Palm Sunday celebration. We burn away the innocent cheerfulness and euphoria — the ‘pomp and circumstance’ — of last year’s Hosannas. Truthfully, we may have a tough time remembering hosannas from last year — it has been a long twelve months. Symbolically, we burn away outer layers, veils and masks, and the external armor that hides us.
As we burn the leaves, we let go of something. We also reveal something.
The green leaves have dried and yellowed. They are only the memory of some portion of our lives that we’ve clung to — preserved for a year — now released by flames. In the flames, they curl and shrivel. Grow black and gray. Change to charcoal, soot and ash.
Today we gather up whatever is left, whatever didn’t go up in smoke. We scoop ashes. Combine them with the oil of anointing, and wear them.
Today is a confession. It’s a submission. It’s a surrender.
Today we bow our heads or fall to our knees, so we can rise again. Rise: known, named, claimed. Rise: beloved.
Oh, to be sure, we don’t become suddenly perfect as we confess. We’re as imperfect as ever. We’re as messy and broken as before, and also as beautiful and possible, as before. Yet we are also accepted and forgiven.
In this moment, we drop our guard. Look into the face of God, or ask God to look upon our faces. Doing so, we invite the experience of being fully seen, fully known.
Afterward, sooty leftovers grace our skin as thumbprints, crosses, or circles. We wear Christ’s fingerprints. Mark ourselves. Allow ourselves to be marked.
Thus, at our best, we are honest in these moments when we bare ourselves to holy Love. After all, what’s the benefit of hiding from Godself? We’ve been seen and known all along. The only ones from whom we really hide are ourselves, and maybe other people. God knows us, whether we choose to be known or not.
Yet it makes a difference, when we choose to participate, and to offer ourselves to the Love that sees us. Especially when we then turn toward the world, bearing the mark of being seen and known, and loved. — Rev Gail
Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. ― Confucius
The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God’s eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love. ― Meister Eckhart
Challenge: Look in the mirror. And with kindness, with compassion, meet your own eyes and tell yourself you are loved. If you have the chance, look someone else in the eye, and hold that gaze for 10 seconds, and at the end of it, tell the other person, “You are loved.”