Reciting Ash Wednesday by T.S. Eliot

Last year Ron Dart suggested that the Contemplative Order of the Sons of the Holy Cross should read and reflect on T.S. Eliot’s Ash Wednesday during lent. I did as was suggested and found the poem to be insightful in a manner that I could not grasp immediately (on account of the heavy use of allegory and symbolism). In the spirit of Lectio Divina I decided to memorize the poem so that when I recited it I could dig a little further into the language that Eliot makes use of. To stay with the visual images and language that he uses while moving along slowly, without needing to reference the written words. Often I dream of different verses within the poem as I sleep, and my hope is that it has penetrated to levels of my self below the level of the conscious awareness.

This year during lent I am again spending time with Ash Wednesday while supplementing the poem with repeated reading of the book of Ecclesiastes, supplemented by Gregory of Nyssa’s commentary on the book, and Dante’s La Vita Nuova, both of which figure prominently in Ash Wednesday.