How Do You Plea?

The ashes are from fires long past: weathered planks from the Ark that rode out the Flood; dried-up palm fronds, waved by a cheering crowd, then tossed aside; they are from the dark, pitted wood of Christ’s cross.

When we smeared this ash on our foreheads, we branded ourselves with a guilty plea. We marked ourselves with a profession of sin, an admission that somewhere along the line we gave fear a home in our hearts; that we taught ourselves to ignore the mutuality of all Creation; that we have added– through lack of courage or lack of concern, by inaction or action– to the world’s suffering.

“We were not strong, only aggressive; we were not free, merely licensed; we were not compassionate, we were polite; not good, but well behaved. We courted death in order to call ourselves brave, and hid like thieves from life. We substituted good grammar for intellect; we switched habits to simulate maturity; we rearranged lies and called it truth, seeing in the new pattern of an old idea the Revelation and the Word.”
Toni Morrison