February 8, 2013

For Ash Wednesday

Posted in Hope, Lent, Liturgical Calendar tagged , , , at 11:12 pm by Teresa Roberts Johnson

The stately cedar trees bow down their heads in woe
And shudder sadly as the savage wind swoops down,
Rearranging ghostly garments made of snow,
While all around stand trees with scrawny limbs of brown.
Thus winter-deep in grief, the trees remember days
When wild petunias danced and curtsied at their feet
And honeysuckle draped them all in blooms of maize
That drenched the evening with their perfume sweet—
Days when vibrant bluebirds pirouetted in the sun
While sparrows drank the lees from last night’s shower.
The blooms are now mere memory; the birds are gone.
Rain hardens into ice; the sun has lost its power.
But with relentless hope, the evergreens remain
As witness that the buried seed will soon arise.
For just as spring shall put an end to winter’s reign,
Ash Wednesday fades amid the Easter victory cries.

Copyright © 2013 by Teresa Roberts Johnson (All rights reserved)

This piece is written in the same vein as “Autumn Grief” and “Until Hope Ends.” All of them draw pictures from the natural order in an attempt to hint at deeper spiritual truths. This piece contains more personification than I normally use, but it seems fitting here. The finished work of Easter benefits the earth, not only mankind. Something in me wants to think that God’s whole creation anticipates the day of deliverance, and that may not be too far fetched:

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:16-23)

That is perhaps the best passage to keep in mind during the very disciplined days of Lent.

I’ve had the concept of relentless hope in my head for several weeks, but I didn’t get anything on paper until 21 January. The word “relentless” seems to have has negative connotations under normal circumstances, so I felt that it also needed to be redeemed. There is something to be said for having unrelenting hope, love, and faith.


  1. […] See also Teresa’s poem “For Ash Wednesday“ […]


  2. lib said,

    Have been contemplating hope a lot.lately.as well. Mostly.considering that he has anchored it in me! This piece id beautiful! Blessings!!


    • Teresa Roberts Johnson said,

      Thank you so much, Lib! Hope has become my theme for many, many reasons.


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