In class this afternoon, the Rev. Dr. Lauren Winner invited us to spend six minutes writing about dust to see what it teaches me about Ash Wednesday. Here’s what I came up with.
Remember that you are but dust and to dust you shall return. As one who suffers from seasonal allergies, I’m keenly aware of dust. I know when it is prevalent. I know when it is on the move. I know when my body is responding to dust all around me. I also know that most of what dust is comes from me and my body. Dust is the microscope residual of skin and hair and sweat and silva. Dust is part of who I am even as it is part of what ails me so. Dust is a microcosm of life. That which is a part of me is often what keeps me from fully being me. Inordinate love of self keeps me from actually loving myself. My desire to be considered special keeps me from actually being special. The things that I chase after keep me from realizing the one who is chasing after me.
God created humankind out of dust. Ad’am. But what makes us fully alive, the people who God intended us to be, we must move beyond our dustiness and be infused with the breath of God: the Holy Spirit. When we live into the fullness of our createdness, we live a life of the Spirit who is our advocate, who calls us back into relationship with our creator, who reminds us of the dream that God had in mind when out of love he created us. Dust is who we are, but not fully. Dust keeps me from being fully me. God’s Spirit makes me fully me.