Knees bent, head down. A cross of ash brands my forehead, a reminder: dust you are, and to dust you will return.
He reads out the Ten Commandments, words for all humanity that morph into my own most secret sins. Idolators and all those that worship God's creatures, God shall judge; I see every day I prioritise my friends above my time with Him, the days I put everything above Him; the nights I spend daydreaming about the concerns of day, drifting off to sleep without a hint of Him in my mind.
Amen, Lord, have mercy upon us.
For you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart...
As we make like snakes and weave through the queue back to our seats, you immediately kneel to pray. A man wants to pass through; he hovers around until you notice and sit back in your seat to let him pass by, and you wait a little longer. A woman squeezes through. As soon as she gets past you you are back on your knees, determined. I am taken aback by a surge of joy, joy at your love, joy at at your persistence and urgency. Wow God, look at that. You're looking too, aren't You.
Wow, God, thank You, thank You, thank You. Look at how I can't help but smile now, with this sudden bloom of thankfulness and joy, a gleeful child. Rejoicing, celebrating here, even under the ashes.
A time to mourn, to contemplate sin and death. Even so, because and so long as You are here, there is always reason to rejoice; I will rejoice in light of You.