ashes to ashes… ash wednesday labyrinth

i’m making a labyrinth for Ash Wednesday. I’ll mark it out with rocks in the chapel, here in the synod office.

i started with the idea of having stations throughout the labyrinth, each with a bowl of ashes and a short reflection, but then decided (in my new policy of always removing something from the worship i curate) to strip it back, to guide the journey less… and it’s ended up simply with a reflection at the beginning, a bowl of ashes in the centre, and a reflection at the end.

it goes like this…

At the entry

It was just a few weeks ago, really,
that we were hanging fairylights and tinsel,
unwrapping presents
toasting Christmas with champagne
and celebrating the Christ child born in the world.

it would be so easy to let that be the whole story of incarnation.

But today we can make a choice
to face the reality of how this story of love, incarnate, continues.

Today is a turning point in this story –
a day to recognise our humanity
and our mortality

to remember that only God is God,

and to take a first step on the path towards Good Friday
where Jesus shows us just how God is God.

As you walk this labyrinth,
leave behind the clutter and clamour of a world that would have us believe
there is another path to salvation,
and let each footstep take you closer to the heart of God

When you reach the centre you may like to mark yourself with a sign of a cross
to remember that we are dust and that to dust we will return
and to commit yourself to walking this journey of lent.

at the exit

You leave here to go back into the world
where, at times, it seems everything conspires to distract us from this Lenten path.
Some call it temptation
but maybe that gives it a false romance.
The reality is, it’s just how life is.

As you go into the world
make a space for lent to unfold

and if you give up chocolate, or meat, or driving, or talking about the church or theology
– whatever it is that clutters your life with its false imperative and centrality –
have the courage to let the gap it leaves stay empty.

Because it does take courage to leave space for this story
– uncompromising, stark, like the wilderness itself –
to take its hold on you

May you walk its path with faith this lent.
Know you walk it in the company of Jesus.


  1. I feel guilty for not doing anything for ash wed now, having read your description. It’s Lent, though, so I’m supposed to feel guilty or some such. Are there photos of the setup somewhere? Keep up the great work.

  2. Cheryl


    actually, i think guilt is the best thing to give up for lent…

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  4. bob

    Guilt is just the memory of a past which is dead. Ashes are death, and Lent is a pilgrimage from death to new life, a springtime of the spirit. Just wander through the fields and feel the wind and the rain and the sun as you watch the new life, the green bursting out from the dead brown. We are the same.

  5. Pingback: Ash Wednesday Labyrinth Stations « wonderings thru life and other such nonsense

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