An Ash Wednesday story

Last week, on the afternoon of Ash Wednesday, I went to visit D. I was taking her communion at home because she has been housebound since October when she had a fall. She can now walk around the house and back garden but she has lost her confidence in going out the front door. She has been waiting for months for a 3 wheel zimmer thingy but the wheels of the Social Care Dept seem to grind rather slowly. (Yes, I’ve written about her before and she still hasn’t had a bath or shower but is making do with a ‘dicht’.)

As it was Ash Wednesday I thought I’d take some ash along with me and use some of the liturgy we’d used in the morning. (Transporting ash is not easy, let me say, and I forgot the lemon.) We sat in her lounge looking out on to the garden where St Francis and a stork look down upon the pond. D is a third-order Franciscan, living a Franciscan way of life in her own home. She is eternally optimistic and never complains and I see St Francis in her every time we meet. After the service we spent some time in silence listening to the birds outside and then D said she wanted to get something. She came back with a bible and opened it up to the front cover. Then she took her thumb and rubbed it on her forehead and transferred the smudge of ash into the front page of her bible. There on the cream paper were rows of black and grey smudges from Ash Wednesdays past with the year underneath. One year there was a bit of paper stuck in with a smudge on it because D had been away that year but she didn’t want to miss it.

It was a beautiful sight, those rows of smudgy crosses. They represented all the prayers for repentance, the reminder of ashes of hopelessness. Remember child that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Some were quite dark, some barely visible. Thumbprints of ashes past.

I came home and did the same in my bible.


Brother Sun Sister Moon was a success

As part of our Open Week to please all people, we watched Brother Sun Sister Moon last night. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It tells the story of St Francis of Assisi (his feast day is on the 4th) and was directed by Franco Zeferelli.

After the film group detested the last film I chose, I was a little apprehensive but I needn’t have worried. “Sensuous and seductive” was one description. And I heard one or two humming Donovan’s soundtrack as they left.

Got home to find two tarantula-sized spiders in the bathroom. WWFD I thought to myself. My sooky remover of spiders is just not strong enough to deal with these enormous beasts, or else it needs new batteries. And they are so insolent. Have you noticed that? Bold, they are. No scampering off to hide in dark corners – they just sit and brazen it out. I’m not going to reveal what I finally did but suffice to say I shall be asking St Francis’ forgiveness in my prayers.