little bit of lagniappe

reflecting on everyday grace

Les Misérables, Lent, an elbow, and “Ashen Hope”

Last night, my mama and I went to see Les Misérables (thankfully, it’s still playing at Tara Cinema if you have not yet seen it!), and we sobbed through its entirety, shedding tears at both the savage existence of man, but also over the triumph and redemption with which the story ends — with which every story ends.  Indeed, there is grace.

And so, my soul is awake today with images, songs, and symbols of both despair and hope from Victor Hugo’s powerful work, but also with what all of it means during this significant Lenten season — a time of reflection and repentance, of silence and emptying — of remembering our very mortality and whose we are.

With these brimming thoughts, I am also very aware of my bandaged elbow at my side.  Wrapped tightly like a swaddled babe, she is a symbol both of my very human limitations, but also of buried and bursting hope.

While this trial has dragged on far longer than I ever would have anticipated, I do feel the Lord’s presence and purpose through it all, and I know that He is teaching me, day by day.  I am finding far more time for quiet and rest and being still these days — that which was absent from my life for far too long.  Truly, I feel like God has saved me from myself.

From all these swirling thoughts and this stillness on a Sunday afternoon blooms a poem I wrote called “Ashen Hope,” whose thread finds common binding in Les Mis, Lent, and my little left elbow.  🙂

Ashen Hope

From the rising dawn

to the setting sun,

as I wander this world

in mortal rags of ashes,

Lord, let me be aware of my limits,

with a heart open to realize

that I will not live forever.


Such knowledge

I will not fear,

for you made me for paradise,

and my imperfections, cracks,

and these broken, wounded limbs

let your limitless love

and light

shine through.


With another breath,

you have blessed me this day.

May I choose to live,

not in sameness,

nor to the tune of broken records,

but as if flowers

were growing from my belly,

and birdsongs, dancing from my lips.


May I choose

to love extravagantly

right where you have me.


In this Love,

we do live forever.


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3 thoughts on “Les Misérables, Lent, an elbow, and “Ashen Hope”

  1. Absolutely beautiful!

  2. This offering is deep, rich, and powerful. Thank you for your vulnerability and profound faith in HIM; for using your little bow as a positive way to be in relationship with Jesus, and to share your brokenness as a sign of HOPE. For those of us struggling with our own “bows”, thank you for sharing His Light and promise of FREEDOM.

  3. hey Cart!

    Thank you for sharing the beautiful poem.  I loved it!

    I am so sorry I have not gotten in touch to check on you with your elbow.  You have been on my mind, and I wish I would have contacted you sooner.

    I return to East Africa on Thursday this week, but would love to connect to at least say “see you next time, and I love you!”

    I will try to reach you by phone as I am not checking email regularly now.  Please also feel free to call and hopefully we will catch one another.

    I love you Cart!



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