Stigma

The Lenten journey begins with ashes
And the urge to wipe that smudge off.
Perfection, clarity, beauty
Lie beneath the stain.
I don’t want to see that death.
Living corpses all.
No.
I cannot look in the mirror.

My son turns away, embarrassed, like a teenager,
Mortified by his mother’s mere existence.

Eyes drawn to my forehead
As if I’m messy
Or crazy
Dead woman walking.

I am more
Than the smear accentuating
The crease in my furrowed brow.

It seems we should
Each one of us
Keep her scars hidden.
They are easier (for others) to tolerate unseen.

But He does not look at wounds that way.

He lifts my chin
Brings my eyes to His.
Love
Wipes the tears.
Tenderly, as a mother
Kissing the forehead of her feverish baby.

Don’t you understand what the mark means?

You are mine,
Chosen,
Beloved.

Grace wipes the ashen stain
With baptismal waters.

You have always been my own child
And will ever be
Mine.