An Ashes Journey With Compassion

By Henrita Frost, SSND

The experience of receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday continues to be a companion on my daily journey.  I view ashes as integral to countless daily lives of women, men and children and all beings in our Common Home.  I remember that the once lovely palms became ashes.  Now, almost daily in our global community, once lovely countries become rubble and ashes, through violence.

Homes and hopes of people are turned into rubble and ashes.  The heartbreak of these events deepens as many lives of women, men and children are destroyed and countless among them return to dust before their time.  The words ring painfully in my heart:  Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” as I lament the suffering and death of all beings and wonder if peace will ever come.

Together we are walking the Lenten journey that began with ashes.  The reality of violence that brings rubble and ashes is not mine, my exterior path is smooth.  However, rubble and ashes nag at my being as I ponder, “What can I do to make a difference for my suffering sisters and brothers.”  In the distance, I hear a voice that says “conversion of heart” as I recently read Pope Francis’ message for Lent.  In this moment, the approach of Spring presents a message about conversion.  Spring is a season of new beginnings when fresh buds bloom, animals awaken and the earth seems to come to life again.  The buds, the animals, the earth and we are all one.

This Spring can be our time for a renewed beginning of living, remembering that, “Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependence of all beings” (Thomas Merton).  The new way is living from the perspective that we are not separate beings; we are interconnected and are one with God.   Many are describing this as a shift from me to we. 

This is my conversion to move from me to we; finding ways to companion others, opening the doors of our hearts to compassionately relieve the ashes and rubble for millions in our Earth Community.  We can allow ashes to become new life bringing Easter joy to all beings.

 

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