This is dedicated to my American friends, who are going through a prolonged election campaign right now.. I wrote it years ago, when Ash Wednesday happened to fall in the lead-up to an election -- it seems to me that there are aspects of politics which are very good illustrations of original sin ..
ASH WEDNESDAY AT ELECTION TIME
The politicians drone their platitudes.
The media meander on for miles;
And desolation over all the earth,
As candidates try on their different styles.
There is no bitter like the ashen taste
Of plastic-smiling, cold futility.
If people all deserve their governments,
Then penitence becomes an urgency.
Nightly, the same old stagnant mud gets hurled.
Daily, the same old headlines shriek their way,
Across the barren mindscapes of despair;
And folly and cupidity hold sway.
Yet, there are those who say there is no wrong
In human nature, simple, undefiled.
Romantically, they yearn an innocence
Which is not real in even a small child.
Have they not heard, have they not understood,
Whence wickedness, frustration, every woe
That haunts the heart of man, estranged, confused;
The pain we carry everywhere we go?
Refusing God, they disbelieve their sin,
Yet have not found another name to call
The hunger of the heart unsatisfied,
Which, God denied, has nothing else at all.
Yet, are we guiltless, who have named His name
With lips of honey-sweet hypocrisy;
But have not let our lives be crucified:
Reject the cross, but want cheap ecstasy?
Judgement begins within the house of God.
We are not holy, though self-set-apart.
We dabble in the dirtiness of life,
And, whitewashed, hide our horridness of heart.
So, in the season of stark penitence,
Let it be our own hearts that feel the rod;
With living urgency, put off our sin;
And own our deep and dreadful need of God.
Let us proclaim His word, not smugly, but
As those who have been ransomed at great price;
And, for our nation's sake, learn how to pray,
That this land might be drawn back to Christ.