I’ve had it on my list to write a poem about the house we live in, its character, charm, and what makes it our home: other’s presence. My wife and I are very hospitable and we love to entertain. I hope this piece captures the essence of our current home and of who we are as a family. Enjoy!
“1905 Topf Road”
This past Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, which sounds weird, right?
Ain’t nobody puttin’ ashes on me!
What’s that burnt smell?
Oh hell no, that don’t even look like a cross…
It’s a time for people who believe in Jesus Christ to repent of their sins, acknowledge their mortality, and enter into a season of great expectation for Easter to arrive.
I kept thinking of how to put it in the simplest of terms for someone who has no clue what Ash Wednesday is all about, and this is what I’ve come up with: Ash Wednesday is a day to acknowledge you’re going to die one day so that you can begin to live your life differently.
There are many ways you could do this, but the way that seems to be practiced by those who believe in Jesus Christ starts with confession of sins, moves into practices of prayer and fasting (as a response to acknowledging our sin and to draw closer to God), then culminates in God empowering persons to live a holy life and seize every moment.
With all this in mind, I offer a funny moment that has stuck with me this past week:
After imposing ashes at noon on Wednesday, I met up for a late lunch with some friends, one’s a pastor, one’s a worship leader. (Try Lost 40’s Wednesday brisket if you’re ever anywhere near Little Rock, AR. It’s amazing!)
I asked them: What do you say when you impose ashes? I had just been thinking of this since what I said at noon and what another pastor, Cindy, at our church said differed.
Me: From dust you come, to dust you shall return; God draw near you as you draw near to God this season. Amen.
Cindy: From dust you come, to dust you shall return; repent and believe the gospel. (Traditional saying, by the way.)
Without skipping a beat, my friend who’s the worship leader mind you, pipes in with this jewel, seizing the moment:
TMan: From dust you come, to dust you shall return; Dilly DILLY!
May you, if you so choose to, fully be sorry of how you’ve wronged others and even yourself so that you can fully live a vivacious life following Jesus Christ. Dilly DILLY!
Today has been filled with conversations surrounding human certainty, or should I say, the desire to have certainty of things as humans. Or, if you prefer the term, clarity.
Ironically, the first conversation was with my four-year-old daughter. Kids have so much to teach me. They can also teach you about yourself.
We were looking at photos of when “we” lived in Kentucky. She kept insisting that one picture was of her and her older sister and that it was taken in the first house she lived in as a child in Monroe, Louisiana. No matter how much I tried to clarify her thoughts and memory (no sweetie, we lived in Kentucky then; you weren’t born yet; that’s Emily not Sophie, and Sophie not you), she insisted that this photograph captured what she “remembered,” “who” she thought was in the picture, and “where” she thought it was according to her framework of understanding.
I was fascinated by this reality. I’ve taken part myself in creating such a “memory” of past events. Yet today I reflected on this thing we humans do, positively or negatively, of wanting to be certain of things we perhaps don’t know and wanting to have clarity in the details we “know.”
Fast-forward to the next conversation in the church office with a staffer. Ultimate end: we want to know if God exists or not, we want to know why God allows bad things to overtake good folks and good things to pleasantly meet bad people, and we want to know our origins as a race: humans.
I’m not going to begin to unpack all this, but I will ask you this question as I reflect on my own desire to be certain of things as a human being: Can I be ok with answering within myself that I don’t know? Is it possible to begin knowing in the encounter of unknowing, not-knowing, and sitting long enough in that space to begin to wonder and truly think? Can I write a poem to further capture this thought? I’ll try.
Can I hold onto what I know
To behold the things I don’t
Reflecting on another’s nature
Whether person, place or thing
Bringing me to a state know as
Dis-equilibrium and knowing
In not knowing and un-knowing
Ourselves, our places, and our things
Letting new freedom and wisdom ring?
What do you think? What are the things, if you can be so honest to share and sit with not knowing, that you do not know yet want to have certainty and clarity of knowing? For me, I currently want to know why God has been so silent toward me. My hope, in terms of uncertainty, is that I will come to know that the thing I don’t know will lead me into a deeper knowledge and even trust in God in my human-ness of asking the question and waiting for