Lord, You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.” You sweep people away in the sleep of death— they are like the new grass of the morning: In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered. (Psalm 90:3,5-6)
Today is Ash Wednesday, and the first day of Lent–40 days of fasting and abstinence. It’s also a day in the Christian liturgy marked by the distribution of ashes, with the sobering admonition to ‘remember man that you are dust, and to dust you will return.’
I’ve been thinking a lot about dust lately–mostly because it shows up everywhere, no matter how secluded the location. Where does it come from?
It builds up on every shelf and horizontal surface in my world–at home, work, in my car, everywhere! I’m sure that if I ever laid still for any length of time, there would be a level of dust on me too!
This week I finally bought a duster. No more ‘dust-busting’ with rags, brooms, or vacuums. It does have disposable covers, but at least now I have a handy tool for a very tedious job.
‘Dust’ shows up in all areas of human activity. Bernard Haring, a Catholic theologian, once called the 1900 years of religiosity obscuring the gospel mandate ‘the dust of the centuries’. I understand that–sometimes I’ve viewed the church as a seriously crusty armadillo, weighed down with so many humanly-mandated rules and ‘interpretations’ that there’s no room for the Spirit to lead anyone anywhere!
I’m resigned to the fact that there will always be dust–as long as the Earth revolves, physical life decays, and bureaucrats govern–but I’m also committed to removing dust, because it obscures the Light of His Spirit. There is no dust in His Kingdom.