Abraham answered, "Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.
- Genesis 18:27
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
- from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer burial service
We are stardust. We are golden. And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden.
- Joni Mitchell
Sometimes you just can't say it any better than you already said it. That's the way it is with me today as I reflect on Ash Wednesday and offer you the following from a past Ash Wednesday.
"From dust you came to dust you shall return." These words will be said and heard many times today as Christians around the world enter the season of Lent.
Traditionally, the ashes that begin lent are a symbol of human mortality and frailty reminding us all that someday we will die. To contemplate and reflect on our death is also an invitation to do the same about our life.
All of this has me wondering today if perhaps the ashes of Ash Wednesday could not only symbolize our mortality, but ultimately our immortality. Not immortality in the traditional religious sense of "life after death," but, rather immortality as participants in the awesome and mysterious interconnected and interdependent cycles and evolving wonder of all creation.
"Dust to dust" leads us into the primal spiritual questions: Where did we come from? How are we living now? And, were are we going?
In this way Ash Wednesday is not about dying as much as it is about living in full awareness that we are connected to and interdependent with all of creation, now and always.
If you are in the DC area and would like to observe Ash Wednesday in such a way as I've described above, I invite you to join me and others tonight at Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church for "Stardust to Dust - A Deep Time Liturgy for Ash Wednesday." The experience is self-paced so you can begin anytime between 7:30 and 8:30 pm.
We will also have a traditional Ash Wednesday Liturgy at noon.
I hope you can join us for either or both of these observances of Ash Wednesday.
Wherever you may be, I encourage you to, in some way whether attending a formal service, sitting in silence somewhere or going for a walk, take a few moments today and reflect on your immortality.