21st Century Sackcloth & Ashes


Sackcloth & Ashes Defined

In Old Testament times an individual, as part of either the grieving or atonement process, donned sackcloth (an uncomfortable, itchy  garment made from goat hair) and sat in ashes or heaped ashes upon his/her head (or both). These outward signs mirrored an interior disposition.

When used to represent grief, the nature of this action clearly depicted sorrow. When used to represent atonement, the sorrow spoke to amending past actions and accompanied a desired or already implemented change of heart.

Do we ever see this happen today? We stand subjected to public shaming of others on a constant basis through tweets, posts, even news stories jumping quickly on the band wagon of blame. Judgmental and accusatory language reviles the ‘other’, leaving breathless and beleaguered any who observe in passing or offer even reasoned defense.

But do we ever see an individual take responsibility for his/her mistakes with an outward display of sorrow and repentance? What kind of dramatic transformation would public penitence take from biblical times to register in this 21st century world of instant, often electronic messaging?

Sackcloth & Ashes – A Poem

The Lenten season lends itself to meditation and introspection. In keeping with its start just days ago, the following verse composed itself after meditation. God’s idea of penitence (which references sackcloth and ashes and served as inspiration for the verses below) often looks quite different from ours.

My prayer is that this poem fills our hearts with love, understanding, and patience as we struggle together in a world quick to blame and reticent to forgive.


Shame On

Based on Isaiah 58:1-9

Yesterday I shared a post upon my FB page

Quickly met repudiation tinged with mildest rage

Point of view deemed unaccepted, biased and aloof

Was not in the mindset of those who demanded proof

I had fallen prey, like all men, to an outward lure

Wanting ways to justify and spout my favored cure

for the ills of others’ making, surely God would see

how I’d donned sackcloth and ashes – justifying me

Never one to leave us hanging, His Word ever fond

Set the straightest path ahead about the stance I’d donned

Stop the judging and maligning when you don’t agree

There are more important matters for your heart to see

Love your neighbor close at hand and hug the ones who mourn

Focus on the ways in which compassion will be born

Act with kindness, smile though tearful, dress your naked sons

When you’ve done all this and more you’ve only just begun

Do the good where you are able as I have defined

Stop pursuing avenues which only serve to bind

thoughts of others needlessly, upon the worldly stage

Follow me and love your brother on that FB page


Have you ever regretted the manner in which you tried to express your view? I’d love to hear your approach to great communication – share below in the comments section (and invite a friend to view and subscribe too).

Happy Rhyming, Friends!


  1. Rocky Garza

    Thank you for the insight, it’s the best I’ve gotten on this subject.

    Question: I noticed that the last post was back in 2019, I don’t do social media, it has and is causing more division within our nation, families, and churches than anything else.

    1. Post


      Thank you for taking time to read and then leaving a comment. I suppose division is inevitable among thinking people, but the way in which we express our differences goes a long way toward understanding and healing vs. division. If division is the aim, media outlets and social media platforms are doing a smashing job of furthering that cause.

      You’re entirely accurate, I’ve been away from posting for quite awhile…life events and inertia. I feel ready to return and sense that a review of basic procedure might benefit the site before picking up the blog again. Please check back or sign up so you’ll be notified when I post again.

      Again, thanks for engaging.

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