Comfort sits, unexpected,
in our waiting with weakness.
No giant leaps needed, only
the baby steps of the heart
slowly learning contrition.
Begin with incapacity,
then the slow-dawning knowledge
that you are nothing but dust.
Dust transfigures at His breath.
Exhale in the sigh of your Lenten frailty.
Then inhale, inspire.
O brother in our humanity,
Elijah in the desert,
weeping Psalmist of the cross,
You comfort with the fast that says,
Take off your face. Take on mine.
Consolation begins where our pretence dies.
Fire is the colour of the eastbound sun
lighting the face of the dusty sky.
Ash is the colour of this roadwork black,
of tarmac where the plane lost flight.
Red is the colour of the traffic light,
gold the colour in the new day’s eye,
and ash to ash is this road we drive;
no dust be lost today.
Run, speedy feet,
and kick up dust.
Kick up, gather: dust we are.
O dust, return. Be turned.
Be gathered, sheep;
make ready feet.
Unglamorous and matted, poor:
gather all. All dusty sheep, return.
You gather dust,
and send us out, in cloud of dust.
For dust we are;
O dust, return,
What warmth I hide in will soon grow cold.
All Peter’s false fires, Adam’s cloak of leaves,
will burn out, fade, and leave nakedness in ash.
Clothe me. My shame is always before me.
Nothing hides from Your sight
what should be white, yet’s stained like blood.
O God. I stand –
You are enough. You are enough.
Lay me down –
slow me down and lay me down
upon the Cross, in Jesus’ hands.
Slow my heart and silence all
the numb self-serving of my pleas;
stifle pride, unlock the clench
of fists deep in this fickle dust.
Lay me down, my soul;
my soul in Jesus’ hands. Their scars
have room enough for me.
Dust I am, precious Lord.
Though well-adorned in rags of self,
underneath I am dry bone.
Daily I wander in search of glory:
fine silks to wrap my pride;
jewels to garnish ears that do not hear;
softest leather to shoe rock-still feet.
What can clothe a heart of stone?
What perfume can disguise rotting flesh?
O Lord, I am but dust; I cling
to the roof of the earth, a cloying taste.
O gather my dust; assemble my rags;
Only in You can life be made.