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Spirit & Verse is a monthly column of original poem-prayers composed by Cameron Bellm, a Seattle-based writer and mother of two whose “Prayer for a Pandemic” went viral, bringing solace and comfort to many struggling during COVID-19.

Ash Wednesday prayer

A Prayer for Ash Wednesday

We forget sometimes that ashes come from fire,

That this soft black powder was once a firm green frond,

Bright and vibrant before it became dry and brittle,

Stiff and fibrous before a flame transformed it into dust.

Every living thing submits to change.

Let’s not fear it.

From seed to plant, palm to ash,

This bit of the earth smudged on our foreheads today

Was carried lovingly in the hands of the Creator.

What fires will we step into this Lent?

What new forms will our souls take

When we encounter the holy blaze of the Living God?

We are—it is true—ash to ash and dust to dust,

But whether in youth or in old age, in life or in death,

Let us be assured,

We are held, and we are God’s.

Amen.

Previous Spirit & Verse poem-prayers:
A Prayer for the Feast of the Epiphany
A Prayer for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
A Prayer for the Month of the Holy Souls
A Prayer for Living “Fratelli Tutti”
Our Lady of Sorrows
A Prayer for the Beginning of the School Year
A Prayer for the Feast of St. Ignatius

Cameron Bellm is a Seattle-based writer of prayers, poems, and devotionals. After completing her Ph.D. in Russian literature at the University of California, Berkeley, she traded the academic life for the contemplative life, informed by Ignatian spirituality and Catholic social teaching. She is the author of “A Consoling Embrace: Prayers for a Time of Pandemic” (23rd Publications, 2020). Cameron and her husband have two young sons, and, blessedly, playing with Legos often nurtures her spiritual life as much as reading the lectionary. You can find her at cameronbellm.com and on Instagram, @cameronbellm.

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