Dust

From dust you came and to dust you shall return.

blog_ash-wednesdayTonight, I will repeat these words over and over as I look into the eyes of church members – people who count on my to reveal the presence of God in their midst. People who look to me for hope and wholeness. People who come week in and week out, seeking the God who creates and sustains.

Tonight, I will look these people in the eye and remind them that the God who creates their bodies our of the formless nothingness of the ground will eventually scatter their bodies into formlessness once again.

Like dust, our molecules will scatter from one place to another as surely as the wind blows.

The dust from which I came will not always be mine. The dust to which I’m going will not smell or taste of me. Likely, my dust will be on the bottom of a child’s shoe or patted off an unsuspecting person’s jacket. My dust will no more be me than the air I breathe.

Placing the ashes on foreheads tonight, I tell the same story to all who stand in from of me. Moving my fingers in the patter of a cross along the furrowed wrinkles on the top of their head, the dust becomes a visible reminder of the liminality in which we find ourselves: the space between our creation and death.

There is no sugar coating on Ash Wednesday. The dust is unforgiving – a constant itch on our heads to remind us that our lives – our bodies – were never meant to be ours. They belong to the God who formed us. The God who cared enough to make something out of nothing. The God who came to live the most liminal life of all – between birth as a refugee and death on a cross as a criminal. Our lives. Our bodies. Are God’s.

We were dust. We will be dust again. But, we were formed to BE so much more. We were formed, not to smudge the world, but to be the solvent that breaks up the dustiest corners.

We came from dust, but we are made of so much more. Peace. Hope. Joy. Love. Humanity.

Like dust, our aim, our raison d’etre, is to layer the world with all our pieces so that our Home is covered in love. Love so corrosive and evasive that anyone or anything trying to remove even the slightest speck of us needs far more than Pledge wipes.

From dust you came and to dust you shall return.

These words remain on repeat in my head and heart today. From dust you came, but dust you are not yet again.

The space between itches. The space between marks me with something I have not yet become. The space between urges me – pulls me – into something deeper.

My journey this Lent may not be towards a cross. My journey may simply lead to another day in the space between. But, at the end is resurrection.

Today’s itch. Today’s discomfort. Today’s marking is not permanent.

Perhaps even Jesus’ dust remains in a tomb somewhere, but that is not where he lives.

He lives in the place where hope rises from ashes. He lives in the place where even destroyed temples cannot squelch God’s presence. He lives where the deepest itch to spread peace, joy, and love etches itself as a cross on our hearts.

From dust you came and to dust you shall return.

Tonight, I will look many people in the eye and tell them they came from dust. My ashen finger will mark their foreheads as a nagging reminder of the dust that will one day consume them.

And, as we all carry that dust with us, I pray that this dust will not be the end of our stories; That when the dust from last year’s palms wears off, we will rest in the one who walked and walks with us in the space between dust.

This post is a part of a Lenten discipline I am participating in to write each day on a specific word. These posts reflect daily thought processes and conversations with God as I journey through this season of repentance and reflection. I hope they will be meaningful to those of you who find this space and journey with me.

  One thought on “Dust

  1. JAMES NOLEN
    February 14, 2018 at 12:03 pm

    EMILY; TODAY IS VALENTINE’S DAY AS WELL AS “ASH WEDNESDAY” AND ALL OF YOUR WORDS ARE FROM YOUR HEART TO OUR HEARTS.  THOSE THAT YOU TOUCH TONIGHT WILL BE BLESSED. JIM 

    WordPress.com | Emily Holladay posted: “From dust you came and to dust you shall return.Tonight, I will repeat these words over and over as I look into the eyes of church members – people who count on my to reveal the presence of God in their midst. People who look to me for hope and wholenes” | |

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