Sackloth and Ashes

February 9, 2009

Anyone who has been home schooled has a number of stories to tell about their mother’s creativity for conveying concepts. Personally, I believe that my mom could win an award for her ingenuity. Could and should.

Our study of King David’s reign is difficult to forget. We started out by reading about his life and times, probably listening to lessons on tape or watching a video about him. I specifically remember learning about the most tragic parts of David’s life and the way he responded by weeping in sackloth and ashes. The three of us kids felt we had a decent grasp of the wise king’s reign, but apparently, Mom thought we needed to have a more personal experience of it.

Therefore, she whipped out some burlap sacks with holes for our heads and arms. It was a real “Aha” moment – now we really understood what it meant to weep in sackloth. Unfortunately, the Scripture we were studying specifically said that David wept outdoors, in the street, or perhaps in front of the temple. That part is a little hazy. Regardless, Mom marched us right into the bright outdoors and had us sit down at the side of the street of Jerusalem, aka our driveway.

Since our back yard was clearly out of sight of any potential passers by, we were content to sit there wearing our potato sacks and pretending to weep and mourn like David did. That is, until Mom added the final piece. We unsuspecting kids crouched in the yard while Mom walked off toward the house, then returned holding a huge gardening shovel and the ash bucket from the fireplace. She proceeded to dig out a heap of ashes and dump them directly onto Shannon’s head. Choosing Shannon first was strategic – if Shannon had seen what was coming, she never would have stuck around to experience it. Ben and I, on the other hand, were pretty mesmerized, and we sat there in surprise while Mom dumped ashes on our heads too. We even have photos that she took while we assumed our most agonized poses, perhaps even the same ones David did.

Shannon did not join us in our sackloth and ashes photo shoot, by the way. We lost her as soon as she was covered in soot. I can honestly still remember the tenor of her voice when she screamed out, “Mom?! I’m out of my conditioner!” Mom patiently reminded her that David went through this same thing, to which Shannon responded as she flew into the house, “Well, I’ll bet he had conditioner.”



  1. kinda petty, i know, but for the sake of posterity… i’m pretty sure we were mimicking the behavior of King Nebuchadnezzar.

    PS i’m pretty sure at the time that i thought this event was pretty awesome.

  2. Hmmm… you’re probably right. But I was at first convinced we were studying King Solomon, but a quick look at a concordance convinced me that wasn’t right. Corredtion is noted.

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