Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ

Remember that you are dust
And to God’s beloved dust you shall return.
- Ash Wednesday Liturgy -

May you live all the days of your life.
- Jonathan Swift -

Photo: © iStock.com / elinedesignservices (image #43282422)

Last month we rounded the one-year anniversary of the first Covid19 case in the United States.

Next month we will pass the one-year anniversary of Covid distancing restrictions and zoom worship. We were a few weeks into Lent last year when we started to understand how dangerous the virus was going to be, and I remember sharing the quip, “well, this is the lentiest lent we have ever lented.” Little did we know just how long that lent, that season of giving up and letting go, was going to last. How “lenten” the whole of 2020 was going to feel – life pared down to essentials.

Now as we approach the beginning of a new Lent, I wonder if it might be wise to rethink our idea of this usually penitential season. We’ll gather on Ash Wednesday (Feb 17, 7pm) to meditate and to pray, and to dig our fingers into some earth and ashes. Because “That we are dust is a reminder that our lives are fragile, and that the lives and hearts of those around us are as well. So we must tread lightly and walk joyously, spreading love for hate, peace for rancor, and healing for a world which is all too wounded. That we are dust is a reminder that in our material existence there is a limitedness, a boundedness…” 

That we are dust, and into God’s beloved dust we shall return, is a challenge. But instead of letting that truth turn our hearts to self-recrimination, instead of focusing on “giving things up” and self-discipline, I invite us into a season of casting off shadows and renewing our hope.

Despite the relentlessness of the pandemic, in the face of economic uncertainty, while the long fight for justice is ongoing – springtime is on the way. Spring, when all the world will teem with life and joy and hope reborn. Now, as we wait for that springtime and the celebration of the resurrection, “is the time to rid ourselves of the chains, addictions, and habits which hold us bound. Now is the time to repair those wounded friendships, and to remember once again the joy that we had in them. The time is now because we are returning to dust, and there is no other time.” (Rev. Michael Rogers, S.J., Huffpost 3/3/2014)

Instead of a repeat “lentiest, lent we’ve ever lented,” may this season be made holy by attentiveness and love. Together let’s walk each other into a season of freedom and renewal.