Today, Ash Wednesday, many Christians will go to church, be marked with a cross on their forehead and hear the ancient words, “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” In the shadow of death, life becomes precious. I was once told that writing the inscription for my grave would prepare me to live life. Jesus tells us a parable, Luke 12:16-21:
16 Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. 17 And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ 18 Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
Remembering our destination helps us chart a course on the map.
Remembering our mortality gives perspective on fragile relationships.
Remembering our frailty humbles us to seek forgiveness and help.
Remembering the brevity of life helps us embrace the moment.
We wear our masks, socially distance, get our vaccines and an ice-storm reminds us that we are dust and to dust we will return. Today we remember that we do not know the hour or the day when death will visit – hopefully later than sooner.
For the next forty days, not counting Sundays, many Christians will embrace Lenten spiritual disciplines as we remember and travel with Jesus to the cross, to death. The surprise of resurrection will have to wait for Easter. For now we practice focusing disciplines like extra times of prayer, fasting, focused scripture readings, special tithes, elimination or addition of practices – something out of the ordinary to help us remember we are dust, temporary, fragile, formed in the shape the God of the universe wants us and trying to live a life that pleases God with God’s help. Many our Lenten journey of meditations bless you.