Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down   6 comments

My memory is like cellphone reception in the sticks–very iffy.  I am a full-spectrum forgetter, from the trivial pen to the crucial time sheet submission, and everything in-between.  I’m so good at misplacing things that I’m surprised to find them where they belong–the cupboard is the last place I look for my coffee cup.  I have a whole strategy for dealing with my incompetence–jotting myself reminders and propping them in key places (my computer keyboard, my Honda dashboard) or leaning things against the door so I can’t leave without them.  I am totally prepped for the onset of Alzheimer’s!

Along with my other inveterate shortcomings, It is my wild forgetfulness that wakens my memory, that keeps me aware of my own inadequacy.  Some folks are so successful or competent or busy or distracted that their memory needs to be elbowed into recalling their own failings.  They get good grades at work and church and family and pick up extra credit volunteering at the mission downtown.  Their lives, unlike mine, constantly point to their virtues and accomplishments, and it is their failings that they forget.  They need reminders, blacked out calendar days, time set aside to reflect on the noxious embers that still smolder in their bones.  They need Ash Wednesday.

But I need Resurrection Sunday.  I live in the ash heap of my own failures, reflecting back on them not for 40 days, but 40 years.  I don’t need reminding, I need rescuing.  What I need to remember, always remember, is Easter, the joy of forgiveness.  My hope cannot be in outgrowing my faults or in forgetting them, but in living my present messy life in the full embrace of God, the God who not only accepts me in spite of my past failures, but also in expectation of my future ones, who is not put off by my need, but is drawn to me because of it.  We all fall down, constantly fall down, but may we land in His grace, not in our own self-loathing.  And may the ashes on our foreheads be the sign of our mutual poverty as we hold one another’s hands and dance together in the glorious light of His redemptive love.


Posted February 19, 2015 by janathangrace in thoughts

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6 responses to “Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down

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  1. So true. Thank you for that insight into God’s Grace.

  2. Amen!!!

  3. I. Love. This. (Go away grammar police; ellipses just don’t convey the same thing).

    As a fellow ash-heap-dweller, I don’t need to be reminded of my sins and failings. They are all around me constantly though I have come to see them as true friends because they are so humbling, and paradoxically, (it seems to me), this mammothly insecure heart needs constant protection against pride.

    These words are inspired: “living my present messy life in the full embrace of God,” “may we land in His grace, not in our own self-loathing,” “as we hold one another’s hands and dance together in the glorious light of His redemptive love.” I read those words and I am in the full embrace of God, abiding in the light of His redemptive love, a place where there is no room for self-loathing or pride.

    Blessings on you, Mr. Grace.

    • I am blessed when others are encouraged by my words. Thanks for reading and sharing. We all need so much encouragement to remember that God’s grace is bigger than anything that makes us feel shamed and reticent to lift up our faces to look into his. I love the verse “come BOLDLY before the throne of grace” not because we are worthy, but because his grace is as unmoving and secure as the ground beneath our feet.

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