We are drawn from the substance of the world. We are nothing more than atoms, fragments of universe, brought together to form a human being and given anima, given soul, by the Creator who Itself is both of and in the same substance of the world from which we are drawn. We are nothing, and yet we are everything. We are the merest fragments of a universe whose size and complexity overwhelms; and yet we are held, intimately and lovingly, by the Creator of that very universe.
We are dust, and to dust we shall return.
It’s both humbling and liberating. Yes: after a moment of time we will leave the earth – hopefully a little better than we found it – and what’s left of our bodies will be absorbed into the earth, and what’s left of our souls will fade to memory. Ash Wednesday reminds us of our own fragility: the transience of a life held in the hand of the Infinite, the Immortal.
And yet, in reminding us that we are dust, and to dust we shall return, Ash Wednesday also reminds us that we are of God, and to God we shall return. We are creations, and to the Creator we shall return. We are of the Sacred, and to the Sacred we shall return. This time we have here on earth is temporary: one day we will be called Home, and in returning to dust, we shall return to our Source.
Now we are in Lent: a time of stripping back, of returning to simplicity, of reminding ourselves of what we cannot live without, and of what we do not need. In Lent we remind ourselves of the essence of who we are: creatures of the Creator, nothingness given form, dust given anima. All of the same substance, we are held, and connected, and loved.
Remember we are dust, and to dust we shall return.