Daniel Nuzum's audioboos

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday: from Palm to palm...

A pilgrim at the Chapel of Christ the Healer,
Cork University Hospital sent me this today 
Ash Wednesday is always a moving experience in hospital. The words "remember you are dust and to dust you shall return" take on a whole new meaning in the midst of illness and frailty. They are words that are sobering at the best of times, but what about when each word flakes like an ash that is too powerfully real? "Remember you are dust..." strikes a deep chord when your physical body is tired and worn and struggling against the reality of illness. "Remember you are dust..." as the gritty grain of the ash is traced in cross-like strokes across a forehead or as in our Chapel sometimes on the palm. The grit of ash, of former glory from palm leaves that were waved in joy and expectation last Palm Sunday now reduced and traced on another palm that holds the lines and the story of our human lives. Glory and mortality, joy and pain, love and loss, fire and oil, palm leaves to ash. The palm that has grown from the earth now burnt, ground and traced into the palm of our human frame. Cradled almost eucharistically, the same palms that receive the broken body of our saviour in the eucharist also cradle the brokeness of our humanity traced across the lines of our life. As the ash sinks in it takes the form of our palm lines and leave their mark.

"Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return" is a sobering reminder that the physical, beautiful bodies that we struggle with, love with and inhabit will indeed return to dust as we are transformed to glory. So yes, Ash Wednesday is a good day.

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