Remember you are dust.

February 25, 2009 at 11:08 am 3 comments

I hope you enjoyed your pancakes!
I can’t believe its already Ash Wednesday again.

And, in realizing that I’ve blogged about this day before, I’ve also realized that I’ve been blogging here (off and on, more off than on) for over a year.

And nary a hateful comment in all that time. I must be doing something wrong.

I’m leading a service this afternoon, for a small church who’s Priest recently retired. I love this service (a variation on what we do is here). The litany of penitence is thorough, and difficult. But it ends with absolution. The honour of pronouncing God’s forgiveness to God’s people is still new and fresh, no matter how often I do it.

I’m struck by the power of this act of imposition of ashes, and the starkness of the words: remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

I need to hear this. I need to remember this.
It is not a message I hear from most quarters.

I am told: “You need to buy, to acquire, to have, to hold… whoever has the most toys WINS! Bigger house! Bigger car! Newer! Shinier! Faster!”
(remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.)

I am told: “You need to diet and lose weight, you need to stay young and beautiful, or you will get sick and die! Fat people will all DIIIIIIEEEEE!”
(remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.)

I am told that I am broken, and that somehow I must fix myself to be ‘good enough’ to enjoy any of the good things life has to offer. I am told that I should suffer now, to earn the right to good things in the future.
(remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.)

Life is short. I am dust, and to dust I shall return. And if I will not make the choices that will lead to a more abundant life then I have wasted this fleeting gift of life.

In the church calendar, the season just ended yesterday (with pancakes!) was Epiphany. And I so leave you with this brilliant bit from the mind of Joss Whedon (who, for a man who claims not to be religious, has a lot of wise things to say about community, forgiveness, hope, choosing good, fighting evil, redemption, and abundant life.)

From Angel, Episode 38 “Epiphany”.

Night. Kate and Angel are sitting side by side outside in the garden court of the Hyperion.
Kate: “I feel like such an idiot.”
Angel: “A lot of that going around.”
Kate: “I just couldn’t… – My whole life has been about being a cop. If I’m not part of the force it’s like nothing I do means anything.”
Angel, still looking pretty beat up: “It doesn’t.”
Kate: “Doesn’t what?”
Angel: “Mean anything. In the greater scheme or the big picture, nothing we do matters. There’s no grand plan, no big win.”
Kate: “You seem kind of chipper about that.”
Angel: “Well, I guess I kinda – worked it out. If there is no great glorious end to all this, if – nothing we do matters, – then all that matters is what we do. ’cause that’s all there is. What we do, now, today. – I fought for so long. For redemption, for a reward – finally just to beat the other guy, but… I never got it.”
Kate: “And now you do?”
Angel: “Not all of it. All I wanna do is help. I wanna help because – I don’t think people should suffer, as they do. Because, if there is no bigger meaning, then the smallest act of kindness – is the greatest thing in the world.”
Kate: “Yikes. It sounds like you had an epiphany.”
Angel: “I keep saying that. But nobody’s listening.”

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lori  |  February 25, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Beautiful. Thanks for sharing these thoughts.

  • 2. Allie  |  February 25, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    I just found this post via the Fatosphere feed and had to comment on how beautiful your words are and how much I needed to hear this today. Thank you.

  • 3. April D  |  February 25, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    So beautiful and a good bit of navel-gazing humbling that I needed to read today; thank you. I am dust and to dust I shall return. What I make of my life and actions in between times will shape how my gift of life progresses.

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