Community is hard.
Loving people is hard. It’s hard to open up to people and risk being hurt. It’s hard not to work for self-sufficiency. Hard to open up and need the love, affection and affirmation of the people around us.
There is risk, there is pain, and it is hard.
But that is no excuse for bowing out and running away, because that is how redemption works.
In our life together we live into the fullness of Christ.
We are not called to be desert monastics. There is no other way. We must be disciples here and now, loving and fighting with these people whom we are with, or we are not Christians at all.
So I renew my vows. I will receive the imposition of ashes, and remember that apart from Christ and his Church, I am lost and dead. I will be with the people I’m called to be with.
I’ll let myself bleed. I will keep opening up the dark, lonely and wounded places, letting the prophets of Yahweh – my brothers and sisters – speak the gentle and unrelenting truth that dissipates my darkness by the light of Christ. Any lies I’ve nurtured will be revealed for what they are. I won’t run from that.
I’ll love the sting of truth more than my own comfort.
This I will do for others. I will offer a safe place for my friends to hemorrhage. Our relationships in Christ are the temple of the Holy Spirit, a sacred place where wounds can be exposed, cleaned and healed. I will listen more than I talk, and will not speak of suffering lightly. I will sit quietly with my friends, invoke the Presence, and wait for the salvation of our god.
Come, Holy Spirit.
“Ash Wednesday,” from the Catholic Encyclopedia.