Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sam Myrick

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord

I fumbled for my phone, trying to turn off the alarm. I quickly realized though that it wasnt my usual alarm, but a phone call. It was still early in the morning, and the Caller ID read Mom. I knew why she must be calling.

Hey Mom.
Hi son... Hes gone.

It was Ash Wednesday of 2009, and my familys day was starting out with death. My stepfather had just succumbed to lymphoma.

I was a pastor. So while packing for the trip to Louisiana, I also made a few calls to make sure everything was covered for our Ash Wednesday liturgy that evening.

Several hours later, I was hugging and crying with my mother.

I remember trying to pick a coffin. I remember going through pictures for a slideshow. I remember telling person after person Actually, Ive given up sweets for Lent, as they bombarded the house with banana pudding, German chocolate cake, and four layer dessert.

And I remember getting the phone call that evening that made the day even worse.

One of the parishioners at the church I helped pastor, a dear friend who was actually supposed to have read scripture in our liturgy that night, found out her sister had died tragically right before the service.

For the next few days, death was all around.

Funeral planning. Visitation. A graveside service. And besides dealing with all that comes with a death in the family, the whole time I also felt so removed from my community in Austin. I wished there was a way I could care for and mourn with my mother, and also care for and mourn with my friend.

Instead, I felt distant in both regards. I felt... cut off.

I guess death does that.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?

When loss comes, there are many different responses we can have. And theyre all valid. But mine and my communities crying out to God was unfolding along with Lent. So our suffering happened to be given readily available theological language and practices that we could grab onto.  For it was clear that the world, and everyone in it, was... broken.

Were constantly hurting each other, and ourselves, and creation - all of which in turn hurts God. So we need, all of creation needs, a savior. Were reminded of that each Lent, as we journey with Jesus toward the cross.

But with you there is forgiveness…”

Over time, Ive grown to love Ash Wednesday. Many find it dark, or depressing. But theres a good deal of hope present too. Yes, were again confronted today with our own mortality - with the reminder that we are dust, and to dust we shall return. However, were to let that realization then move us on into the rest of Lent with hope.

For remember, that God can do pretty amazing things with dust. We read in Genesis that the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

And along with creating, God is also always re-creating. So ash, or dust, when worked back down into the ground, plays a role in new life. And the burnt ashes of what had been becomes the soil for the green of what can be.

Thanks be to God.


During this Lenten season, what do you need to cry out to God for?

What do you need to confess?

What do you need to forgive, or be forgiven of?


Sam Myrick grew up in Louisiana, went to college in Arkansas, met his wife in Colorado, and now lives in Texas. He was a pastor for ten years. Now he hangs out with his wife and kids, tries to be a good friend, sells windows and doors, and writes when he can at You can follow him on Twitter @sam_myrick or on Facebook at


  1. Great post Sam. My favorite line is, "God can do pretty amazing things with dust." Nice job, sir.