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Wednesday, February 17, 2016


In the previous blog I mused a bit on the preposition "to" in the Lenten phrase "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust."  Soon after posting those thoughts I realized there is another preposition in the phrase.  This is the often assumed if unspoken "from."  If "to" implies the journey and experience of life as we know it, then "from" invites us to consider the origin of this life.

In the biblical story of creation the name given to newly created humankind is "Adam" which literally means "from the earth."  Adam is not a personal name for an individual, but rather a descriptive name for the whole species.  Humanity comes from the earth.  

The chemical composition of a human body contains the same elements that make up the planet and atmosphere we call "earth."   We are mostly water (hydrogen and oxygen approximately 75%) and mineral (carbon approximately 19% ), with smaller amounts and traces of another dozen or so gases and minerals.  

Too often we think of earth as the ground beneath our feet when in actuality earth is the land and all that lies beneath, the rivers, lakes and oceans that cover a majority of its surface, as well as above in the thin layer of life supporting gasses we call atmosphere. From the earth means we are all of this. We are dirt, water and air.  We are body and spirit.  We are bread, water, and breath.

Even our thoughts and imagination come from the earth.  Consider these words from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin's Human Phenomenan:  

"To think we mush eat...Sometimes we need bread; sometimes wine, sometimes the infusion of a chemical element or hormone; sometimes the stimulus of color; sometimes the magic of sound passing through our ears as a vibration and emerging in our brain in the form of an inspiration…so many different thoughts come out of the same piece of bread! Just like the letters of an alphabet, which can produce incoherence as well as the most beautiful poem ever heard, the same calories seem to be as indifferent as they are necessary to the spiritual values they nourish.”

We are Adam.  We are Human. We are "from the earth."

So, now we have "to" and "from," but beyond both lies "where."   

Next week our Lenten Pilgrimage of Prepositions continues.

1 comment:

  1. When we feel and understand our from tied directly to creation, and our to as well, we cannot differentiate and elevate ourselves. This is where the holy is found; in connection.

    Thank you, Andy, for prepositioning us again.