Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Because I Do Not Hope To Turn...

The line, of course, is from T.S. Eliot's poem for today, Ash Wednesday. Great poem, to be sure. But the first verse is misleading to a casual reader.

Ash Wednesday is all about turning. That is, turning away from sin and toward God. It is about repentance, reconciliation, return. For Christians, these things are always possible. No matter how far we have strayed, how low we have fallen, the presence of a loving God is no further away than one prayer, one sacrament, one turn in the opposite direction.

We have a lot to repent, no matter who we are. Republicans lie, Democrats are cowardly; the press asks foolish questions and fails to ask the ones that might make a difference; the rich forget the poor, and the poor burn with envy. America is fighting a war in which neither side uses just tactics, or even tries. (Here's more scary documentation of the Bush Administration's effort to make torture legal). Gay activisits want immediate change, and don't care if they split their churches; and their opponents want to live in the past forever, and don't care who they prevent from hearing the Gospel. And as for us who serve in the clergy ... well, our sins are at least as scarlet as anybody else's. At least.

But maybe this year we will change. Maybe this year we will repent, and be reconciled to God, and renew our spirits. Probably not -- but maybe. The possibility is always there. Whenever we want to come home, God is always willing to receive us. That's the point.

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