The passion flower in the Australian bush
needs fire to cleanse and bring about new birth,
so too this oil and ash upon your brow
takes you to death, you creature of the earth;
reminding you of your sure mortal end
so in death’s embers you will not remain
but Son-kissed by the greeting of a friend
you will arise – a phoenix from the flame.
Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return
these words are life although they sound like death.
As the potter takes the clay and shapes its form
so you are recreated by God’s breath.
So shrive and die again into this soil
and grace will germinate through ash and oil.
(c) Susannah Underwood 2021