Only Dust

2 Mar

“I leave marveling at how simple and sublime is this envelope of the soul, which one day returns to dust, dust, only dust.”  ~ Joyce Rupp

The “envelope of the soul”.  What a poetic way to describe the human body.  Yet, that is precisely what it is.  The envelope of the soul.  We also call our bodies the temple of the Spirit.  That is why we gather at the end of a person’s life to reverently bury that body.  While it may no longer have life, for a while on earth, it held something that was fashioned in the very image and likeness of God, the soul.

Today, Christians around the world will take the opportunity to go to church and have ashes placed on their foreheads, reminding them of the fact that their bodies will one day lie in death and will decay, returning to the dust from which they were formed.  Ashes on the forehead are a powerful symbol of repentance and mortality.

We are mortal.  Have no doubt about that.  The fountain of youth had been searched for throughout the ages and never found.  Medical science has attempted to find something that would prolong life indefinitely.  That has never happened.  We all are born and we all will die.  Death, then, is that great equalizer.  Whether rich or poor, young or old, powerful or weak, famous or anonymous, we all will die.

It behooves us, then, to prepare for our death.  We do that by reminding ourselves this day that we are dust, dust formed by a loving God who wants nothing more than to have us return to Him at the end of our days.  If we are to do so, we need to live appropriate lives here on earth.  And that is the reason for Lent.

Lent reminds us that we need to keep our eyes fixed on God and that we need to repent for the times that we have sinned against Him.  Asking God for help, He will give us what we need to rise above our sinful ways just as Jesus will give us the grace to rise to everlasting life with Him at our deaths.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of a penitential season.  It is far from morbid, however.  It is a season of grace and hope.  Enter it with hope today.

FAITH ACTION:  Ash Wednesday is a day of Fast and Abstinence.  Embrace that discipline without complaining but, instead, with all of your heart and soul.