Most days, our schedules are clogged
with avoidance: We’d rather ignore
the inevitable smudge of human decay.
This morning though, Ash Wednesday,
we step into lines and confront
the truth of pain.
We allow strangers to mark us
with a message of paradox.
Remember, you are dust. To dust you will return.
Flecks of once joyous palms, now black grime
Color the firm skin of the young,
Fall into the creased skin of the old.
Repent and believe in the Gospel.
In somber silence we gaze at faces
that will all end up in the grave.
A unity emerges with fresh freedom.
Life after death.
Off to meetings, appointments, repentance or avoidance—
yet some will wear their marks with pride.
We all are moving in the same direction.