40 Days of Mercy: Kyrie in the ashes

This Lent, the world worn down by two years of pandemic, war unfolding in Ukraine and hearts anxious and troubled, I am turning to the poems of others to reflect on what it means to cry out for mercy in this time. Today’s poem is from young Ukrainian poet Les Beley, and it is accompanied by a stunning Ukrainian Orthodox chant of the Kyrie Eleison prayer – Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy. Wherever we find ashes in ourselves and our world, may we kneel and cry out to the God of all mercy, for us and for our world. And, as the music finishes with its final chord unresolved, may we stretch out our arms for these forty days of Lent, trusting in the Resurrection but longing, day by day, for it to be a reality.

Burning Coals
Les Beley (b. 1987, Uzhhorod, Ukraine)


in this city
	people no longer
	cast shadows

same with coals:
	they only have shadows
	until they get into the fire
	and begin to smoulder

coals are not afraid
	to burn the soil underneath them
	rain can’t harm them
	wind can’t fan them
	into flames

purple pieces of coal smoulder longer
	carmine ones presume that they shine brighter
	(hoping in vain to warm themselves in advance)
	purple ones believe they will never burn up
	until moment they turn into grey ashes


From The Frontier: 28 Contemporary Ukrainian Poets, ed. and trans. Anatoly Kuryavitsky, 2017

Published by Matthew Pullar

Teacher, writer, blogger, husband, father, Christian. Living in Wyndham in Melbourne's west, on the land of the Kulin Nation. Searching for words to console and feed hearts and souls.

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