Housework became a whole lot easier when we moved from Texas to California. We don’t have any where near the concentration of dust and dirt in California. Then again, we had more native landscaping in rural Texas. It was nearly impossible to stay on top of the dust and dirt that got tracked into our Texas house. All that dust would remind me of words I’d say during Ash Wednesday services as I was placing ashes on foreheads: Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.
This year, Ash Wednesday gives me more to personally ponder. I’ve had more brushes with death than anyone else in my family, yet my younger brother is the first in my immediate family to die. Aging may remind me of my mortality, but my brother’s untimely death is a constant reminder that we are all a breath away from death.
Just like the dirt that would get tracked into our Texas house, we all leave a dusty trail of footprints on our life’s path. Sometimes the footprints are more muddy than dusty, but each of us leaves prints of our own limitations and imperfections. Dust reminds us of the messes we may make in life and messes we may make of life.
God, however, doesn’t leave us in the dust. God takes us when we’re a lump of dirt and breathes new life into us. This side of eternity we are still imperfect beings, both saint and sinner as Martin Luther of Reformation fame liked to say. But no matter how imperfect we are, we are still created in God’s image with God’s spirit breathed into us.
The journey beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending with Easter is the journey between dust and dust, with a resurrection twist.
So today I remember that I am dust. And today I remember that to dust I shall return. Amen.