Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lent, Day Fifteen: Dust in the Wind

Holy and  good and generous God,
     It is the day of the ashes,
     and I am reminded that my life
     on earth will end,
     and could end at any moment.
But I am alive, made of dust,
     breathing the air you give me.
Thank you for the dust that is me
     and the air that sustains me.
May I more and more
     be sustained by your Spirit
     and less by the things of the earth.

It is interesting to me to see what I wrote on Ash Wednesday over a decade ago, when I had just begun to realize and understand what Ash Wednesday and Lent were and what they meant.

I did not know that that same year would usher in the period of five deaths in less than six months of people I loved. I could not know how deeply I would experience the sense of transience that I expressed in the poem.

"All we are is dust in the wind." The song by Kansas, much as I enjoy hearing its music and the expressiveness of the lyrics, is a pretty sad, hopeless song. It leaves you with the feeling that it's better to just not think about the fact that life will end, because it's all pointless.

"Nothin' lasts forever but the earth and sky." I guess you could say here is where I take a different turn from the song. Because I believe a lot lasts forever besides the earth and sky. . . like God, and love, and joy, and souls, and memories, and meaning, and relationships between formed-from-dust people formed here on this planet of dust and water. And if these things last, they are certainly worth hanging on to, in fact, worth pursuing, even though the song says, "Now don't hang on...."

The word for spirit and wind is the same (well, I should say the words are the same, since it holds true in both Hebrew and Greek) in the ancient languages of scripture. And if I think of the Holy Spirit as the wind, then I cannot think of anything more meaningful and desirable than to be "dust in the wind."

(The photo above came via this website. 
I found plenty of photos of dust in the wind in various forms searching the Internet, but was most drawn to this one. Wouldn't you know, it was used to accompany another poem about ashes and dust? )

1 comment:

Lucy said...

I've just started re-reading Eliot's 'Ash Wednesday', a difficult one, and his own reading of it, which was so helpful with the Four Quartets, seems at first to sound monotonous and sententious. But I'll persevere.

I'm sorry you've had so many intense blows of grief and loss in your life, really I am. Whenever I come in for any I'm always struck by how lightly I seem to have got away with it so far. Perhaps it's a measure of how well you've loved.