by Mary Southard, CSJ
republished from MarySouthardArt.org
This morning we went over to church just as the sun was rising, to join hundreds of others arriving to “get our ashes.” Two refrains have continued to sing in my soul ever since. “Remember where you’re from. You’re from—dust,” which opened out to remembering I’m from stardust, from the Divine outflow into creation, my Divine origin, who I am, why I’m here. And the other refrain, “Return to me with all your heart”—the great Invitation of these 40 days, to turn my heart from the fear, from the darkness of these times, and to embrace and be embraced by Mystery who is Love; who longs for my love and will enable me to taste with all my being this season of renewal and rebirth and hope.
I’m away from “business as usual,” spending some spacious time with my brother Marty in Florida, and able to hear my soul singing. I’ve always loved Lent, and stepping back these few days, it dawns on me why it might be that I do. It’s rather like the “falling-in-love season” for me each year—an “awakening” to the excitement and the gift of life as it cycles again into light! This year, a whole new chapter is beginning for me—embracing a new decade of life, downsizing and moving my studio, a sense of opening out to new possibilities, surprises, opportunities. These latter have been coming hard and fast!
Then a surprise thought! I was led to read my artist statement this Ash Wednesday morning, as a way to “remember” who I am and to “return to God with all my heart.” I listened intently as the video unfolded my “story” as it had been expressed a few years ago. And I found that longing alive and burning in my heart even more deeply now and in new ways. I am filled with desire to let it pour forth from the Source through me and into our world, into my living and creating.
The image and words which resonated most strongly in me as I played the video, is the one I have chosen to share above, from the Song of Songs. God, the Lover, whispers “turn to me with all your heart; I am right here. Remember who you are, my beloved. You came from my embrace. You return to my embrace.” No wonder I love Lent!