Ash Wednesday meditation from Bethlehem

 I walked through a burnt out house outside Bethlehem. A fire had raged through the house after it had been shelled. The family fled from the bullets and shelling and watched as their house caught fire. You could still see the bullet holes and the traces of family live, a melted toilet seat and a burnt shoe. My friend picked up two melted forks; these would later be reshaped to form a cross. I picked up a badly burnt child's T-shirt. It would have fitted my youngest daughter - who I love beyond words. I stuffed it in my bag. Later, back in the UK, when I pulled it out of my bag, I was showered in the ashes of a burnt out house in Bethlehem. Today I travelled to work on the commuter train, jostling for space and hoping that the really annoying ring tone of the person opposite would not be ingrained in my subconscious all day. Reading the Guardian, numbing myself with news from the champions league and then become sadder and sadder as I read reports on charity management, my profession, and the direction it is heading in. Finally I turned to the news, global warming, gridlock, and on page 10, the death of an Asian taxi driver, a father of two, murdered by teenagers who shouted racist insults as they jumped on his head. I turned to my Lent book, my pledge for Lent is to try to read this series of daily thoughts. I'd tried a lent book before and found it trite, but I'm trying again. Luke 9: 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the son of man has no where to lay his head.' 'Follow me.' There it was the choice of Ash Wednesday. Do I try to bring up my children to be those who will walk in the ashes of Bethlehem? Or, do I try to raise them so that they can protect themselves from such a world? Source: Amos Trust

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