Who am I?
I am dust.
Today is Ash Wednesday. A day to remember that we are walking, talking hunks of ash that frequently hurt ourselves, one another, and fall short of God’s desires for us. Ash Wednesday kicks off the season we call Lent, traditionally a time to prepare ourselves for Jesus’ sacrifice and The Resurrection. Lots of people attend a contemplative worship service and receive the mark of the cross on their foreheads. It’s a great time to pause, to remember the length the LORD goes to redeem us—while still calling on us to do our part, too.
The United Methodist’s Rethink Church movement is doing a Lenten challenge where you take a photo a day to reflect on that day’s theme. Then you tag your picture on Instagram with #rethinkchurch and #40days as hashtag markers to join the photo conversation. It’s a pretty cool project, one that I’m hoping will help me focus on the LORD during these 40 days.
Here’s my picture from today.
The theme for today is supposed to be “Who am I?” Several other sources use “dust” as the theme for the first day of Lent. I decided that I wanted to tie them together for some things I’ve been thinking about lately.
[SPOILER ALERT: I’m about to share something that I typically wouldn’t. I’m not sharing for a pity party. In fact, I don’t like talking about it, but it’s something I think I need to do.]
My dog died on Super Bowl Sunday.
Not so super of a Sunday.
It was unexpected, quick, and shocking.
And weird to take her to an emergency vet then go to a Super Bowl party two hours later.
She was just here, a little over a week ago. I’m still not used to her absence. I go to call out for her when I walk through the door. Every piece of food I drop on the floor, I look for Maddie to lick up, because I forget she isn’t around anymore.
She was a great dog. She was a good guard dog, but barked incessantly at anything that moved outside, like leaves. She would beg, like food had just been invented and was doing pretty well in most age demographics. She annoyed us when we’d want to wind down after a long day. She played with Livvy and chomped at bubbles and gave great high fives and was a pretty good running partner.
Here’s a picture of the dog that was a pain in my butt. (She was MY pain in the butt, though.) I loved her.
The reason I tied these two pictures is because, as I remember that I am dust, my thoughts travel to the dog I just lost and my dad who passed away eight years ago. Life is so fragile. We are a vanishing mist, as James 4 says. Ash Wednesday is a valuable reminder of this.
I’m grateful for what Maddie meant to us because Rachael and I got her a few weeks after my dad passed away unexpectedly. Maddie helped cheer me up during one of the hardest times of my life. My dad died at a moment’s notice, too. I still struggle with not being able to say goodbye or “I love you” one last time. I’d give anything for a hug from him or to hear another Gordie joke.
The glasses in the photo were my dad’s. We made fun of him so much for wearing them and now they’re pseudo-cool again. Ha! He would get a huge kick out of that.
Psalm 103 says that “the life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field. The wind blows over it and it is gone and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting, the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with the children’s children.”
Take some time to remember that you are only dust. We are only here for a short amount of time. Use this thought to rejoice in the God who brings us life and promises to reunite us with loved ones who have already entered into The Presence. Kiss and hug the ones you have around you. We are nothing more than walking carbon, blessed with God’s breath and opportunities to experience joy with others.
I am dust.