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