You Are Dust

Yesterday I played for three Ash Wednesday Services. Sometimes when you are so very close to the liturgy, you can get caught in the mechanics and logistics of making sure everything is set out correct and you didn’t forget anything; hoping the cantor gets it, having to pitch in for the sacristan who couldn’t make it, hoping the adjustment the sound crew made on the mics was correct, wondering why the numbers of people are different than last year, thinking about how much there is to do between Lent and Easter…. ya da yad…..

I have to say I was blessed with two moments of grace yesterday. During the evening liturgy, during the distribution of ashes, there was a minister very near the piano. We were doing Rory Cooney ‘s “Hold Us in Your Mercy: Penitential Litany” which is so perfect for that time. But instead of just hearing the two part call /response between the cantor/congregation, I heard it as a four part canon, as I could continually hear the woman distributing ashes saying “Remember, you are dust and to dust you shall return” and the “Amens.” It was such a rich cacophony of sound…… and a full blessing. Sometimes, hearing the minister can be distracting while playing, but this time I was able to fully enter into it.

Then when I got home from my long day, a young parent contacted me. Her son was so very excited that we had done one of my songs that day, and told his mom “Did you know Jill Maria Murdy WROTE it?” It was just such a sweet and gentle moment….and it revived my drooping spirits.

Winter Blasts

Winter blasts, earth cold and dormant,

Seeds lie planted deep within

Slowly life begins her myst’ry

Healing stillness, cleansing sin

Teach us how to wait in patience,

Trusting in your constant love,

We like wheat, once sown in darkness

Bursting through to light above.


Fearful still, we find resistance,

Stubbornly we won’t let go

Holding burdens ever closely,

Doubting we can ever grow

Coax us gently, draw us nearer

That we may be born again

Finding joy, eternal richness

Rising from the single grain.