Ash Wednesday 2016

  “Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the
  earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our
  mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is
  only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life;
  through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.”

-Book of Common Prayer, Ash Wednesday Serviceashes

Closing on a new house almost seemed too easy. I’ve waited longer for food at a restaurant than the amount of time the closing took.  We were anxious to get out of a pretty intense living situation (imagine living with two toddlers in an old house above some very, very angry people), so there was 0% sadness about leaving the place we had been living, and 100% excitement about our new home.  It was a lovely day. Somehow, however, life doesn’t stop. Time just keeps on moving. And here I am. Newly pregnant, newly a homeowner. Still a stay-at-home-mother of toddlers.

David is back to work after taking no time off for moving.  I’m standing on the landing of our new stairwell, according to my math about 8 weeks pregnant, listening to the insurance company’s hold music.  After a few minutes, I give my policy number and get a response that knocks the wind out of me.

If ever there has been a time in my life that I felt like dust, this is it.

Panic sets in as I call David, who is just as surprised as I am.  Hours of phone calls and tears and begging, and even people going to meetings on our behalf don’t matter when it’s apparently 4 days past the open enrollment deadline and you didn’t even know you didn’t have insurance.  

I struggle. I carry the weight of a tiny bank account and mounds of student debt and no insurance, no insurance, no insurance. I lay it down nightly in cryptic, careful prayer, shielding my children from my fear and willing my heart to re-learn simple dependence, my back leaning against the doorframe of my daughters’ bedroom.

This has become my altar. Evening prayer here has become my ritual.

Night after night, I will climb those stairs, even after a day of chasing two toddlers while pregnant has robbed me of my energy. dust. Dust I am and to dust I shall return. 

Night after night, I will lower my ever growing body to the carpeted floor and lean back slow against the cool, hard wood. dust. Dust I am and to dust I shall return.  

Night after night, I will sigh, shudder, lean forward and rest my elbows on my knees, my head in my hands.

We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness:
the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,

Night after night, I lean hard into Jesus, and I ask him what he would do to change me. And the Holy Spirit begins to birth compassion in my heart as I apply for the medical card.

Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those
more fortunate than ourselves,
We confess to you, Lord.

Night after night, I cry. I don’t understand how the insurance works and I am not sure they do either. I fall down the stairs and I can’t call my midwife because I don’t have a midwife because I don’t have insurance yet.  And I believe in and value and treasure the humanity of the baby growing within me, but I also know that right now, I’m not sure how this is ever, ever going to work.

Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and
our dishonesty in daily life and work,
We confess to you, Lord.

And I am still terrified. I still, for a split second, think that this is all maybe just a little bit too much, just a little too overwhelming.

Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to
commend the faith that is in us,
We confess to you, Lord.

My pregnancy was a surprise, and I am covered in the ashes of unpreparedness. Everywhere I turn, there is something reminding me of my frailty, my failing, my brokenness.  The ashes are a sign. A sign that points to grace. I look around and I see a husband who is a wonderful father that loves our girls more every day. I see parents who live 3 minutes from me who would do anything to help. I see a lovely little roof over my head and have all the baby supplies I could ever need and friends who I know would lend me anything.  I don’t look around and see all that I have achieved or a hard-earned “good life” for my girls.  I look around and I see grace. I see mercy. I see provision before my need and in spite of my failings. Instead of clouding my vision, the ashes bring clarity.

Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us;
Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great.

Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,
That we may show forth your glory in the world.

By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,
Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.

I cling to Jesus. White knuckled and weary.  Brought low and humbled. Broken and grateful.

If ever there has been a time in my life that I felt like dust, this is it.

This is part 3 of the series in which I attempt to untangle what on earth happened after I wrote the word Steadfast down as my “One Word” for 2016.  You can read the other parts here: Part1 Part 2 

One thought on “Ash Wednesday 2016

  1. Lindsey, this is so beautiful. The weaving of prayer and narrative was gorgeous and gripping. It resonated with me and I’m so thankful to have read it. Much love to you friend!

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