Friday, February 15, 2013


Perspective is a funny thing.  I can only see from my own viewpoint, but I assume that others see the same world I do.  My eyes are opened by conflict, when I begin to understand that we are seeing two different sides of the same issue.  It's been an exhausting and frustrating week of challenges, yet I know that this is where growth and opportunity lie.  

The timing strikes me.  Lent is one of my favorite times of the liturgical year as I am prone to introspection (and to darkness as well, although that's harder to admit).  This 40-day period of fasting, mourning, and repentance is supposed to remind us of our sin and mortality as we symbolically walk with Jesus in his final days on the earth.  We are connected to him in his temptation in the wilderness, and I am tempted to give up, to give in, to wonder if anything I do matters when on the surface it often looks like failure.  On the opposite extreme, I wrestle with dreams of importance--what could I do to truly shine?  Weakness and pride are but a breath apart.

On Wednesday we observed Ash Wednesday with the imposition of ashes on our foreheads, the cross a reminder that we are connected, too, in Christ's suffering and death.  We are mere mortals made of dust, insubstantial and fleeting.  We are humble beings, tied to the very earth we walk upon, just as the first man and woman were made from the earth.  If anything wrecks my pride it is this.  What are we, that God should be mindful of us?  
And yet, God's love for us is immense, powerful, sacrificial.  So strong that God came to us in the form of another fragile lump of clay, God in human form, who would eternally serve as our connection from this earth to life eternal beyond.

As I was preparing my homily for Ash Wednesday, I read where much of our earth, even our own bodies, perhaps, are composed of materials from stars.  So it may sound simple that we are made of dust, but there is also a sparkle to it, a connection that stretches backwards and forwards millions of years.  A friend took my words and rephrased them much more eloquently and succinctly: "For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return" = "For you were made from stars, and to stars you will return".

May we seek to find blessing in the dust that grounds us, and also keeps us ever looking upwards.

Blessing the Dust
A Blessing for Ash Wednesday by Jan Richardson 

All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners
or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—
Did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?
This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.
This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.
This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.
So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made,
and the stars that blaze
in our bones,
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.

1 comment:

  1. I too struggle with the pull of humility (and insecurity) on one side and the desire to shine on the other. I love your connection between dust and stars. Maybe that will help me accept that it's okay to want to shine. Thanks! :)