Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Embracing the Ash

When I was young, I hated this high, Holy day. I loved the whole Advent and Christmas season, and oddly, also Good Friday (astute observers will note my early tendency to drama in these liturgical choices). But I hated Ash Wednesday. I found it gloomy, and I didn't want to be reminded of how many ways I would fail to be a good person. In my young days, that was the take-away message for Ash Wednesday for me. I doubt the Lutheran pastors of my childhood and adolescent parishes really preached that message. But that's what I heard.

Now, I find myself inspired to make art. Here's the result of my Lenten discipline: week 1, visual art project #1:

I painted a canvas board with gray and black paint, and then I sprinkled real ash from the fireplace onto it. I particularly like the black wispy/flaky bits which sort of look like birds or black butterflies. I have no idea how I will preserve this painting--when I sprayed fixative across it, some of the wispys flaked off. Maybe I won't preserve it. Maybe I'll add to it each week.

For me, as an adult at midlife, this painting embodies the message of Ash Wednesday. We are here for such a short time. We try to hard to preserve what we have, thus ensuring that we will have to watch what we love flake away from us. We are dust, and we will return to dust sooner than we care to think about. As an adult, Ash Wednesday has become one of my favorite services. I need to be reminded of the importance of prioritizing, and that God's priorities may not match those that the world would tell me is important.


lisa nelson said...

Love it. Here's to Lent.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kristin,
I guess I am a bit morbid or somber but Ash Wednesday was ALWAYS my favorite. And I am bummed out that I missed getting my ashes today. Your blog reading helped me quench my Ash Wednesday thirst...and it reminded me of two of my other favorites "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas (cheesy song, I know) of my favorite What Whitman passage...

"I bequeathe myself to the dirt, to grow from the grass I love;
If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles.

You will hardly know who I am, or what I mean;
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless,
And filter and fibre your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged;
Missing me one place, search another;
I stop somewhere, waiting for you."

Nice post....

Mary Beth said...

Beautiful...your words and your art too!

Kristin Berkey-Abbott said...

Thanks everyone, for stopping by. My plan is to create a new visual arts piece each week--consider this an invitation to return each Thursday to see what I've done.