Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust


Ashes to ashes, dust to dust:

"Bonnie -- remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return."

So says the priest putting ashes on my forehead.

I know where this is all going.

I'm just not sure how I'm going to get there and when I will arrive.

It goes like this: we are born, we live, we die.

When I look in the mirror with my glasses on it becomes even clearer to me that I need to add one more sentence to that litany. We are born, we live, we age, we die. Ironically, looking in the mirror, these days, the aging is not so apparent to me without my glasses.

We are born, we live, we age, we die.

I'm not talking about what happens after we die. I'm talking about here and now; all that we know about here and the irrefutable truth that someday you and I will die.

Knowing that we will all die, how then shall we choose to live?

These next 40 days offers us a time to put on our metaphorical and literal glasses and look in the mirror and examine what we see in the eyes of the one who looks back?

Don't just glance. When you look in that mirror (of your life) right now, what do you see?

I see:

Fear, (Will I be left on the sidelines ignored?)
Exhaustion, (How much longer can I keep going?)
Happiness, (Oh my Lord--do you see what this community has done?!)
Longing, (If I could only be a better person, better priest, writer, kayaker)
Gratitude, (How I am loved --unbelievably so.)
Arrogance, (The institutional church gets what it deserves...)
Graciousness, (So many gifts given --so much love.)
Anger (Really?--You thought that would be ok?)
Anticipation, (Maybe when this opportunity appears, that vacation happens...)
Sadness, (He died and I could do nothing, not a freaking thing.)
Illness (I've been sick before--is more to come?)
Hope (Maybe, finally our world will change a bit for the better...)
Despair (This world what will come of it?).

When you look in the mirror what do you see?


And so, I invite you to the observance of a Holy Lent. I invite you to take this time seriously, deadly serious. What about yourself might you observe these next 40 days?
Will we like what we see?
Will we change what we see?

I invite you to the observance of a Holy Lent...

Through what lenses might we look?

What about using scripture to reflect upon our lives? Words inspired by God and written by flawed human beings about the sometimes fragile, often resilient human condition. It's all there in scripture. You want betrayal there's David and Bathsheba. You want steadfastness there's Joseph in the book of Genesis and Joseph in the Gospel of Matthew. You want bravery, there is Rahab in Judges and the women at the Cross in the Gospel of John.

You want arrogance there is Pharaoh and Pilate.

You want hope, there is Daniel in the Lions' den and Mary Magdalene at the Tomb.

What about fasting -- what might you decline to partake of -- to leave a hole for the Holy?

What about prayer? Why not give up feeling bad about not praying enough and instead -- sit still for three minutes and breathe -- and see if the Spirit intercedes for you with sighs too deep for words.

I invite you to the observance of a Holy Lent.

This Lent -- risk looking in the mirror -- see what you see. What might you do with what you see?

Remember at the root of it all -- is a call from God to wholeness and holiness. A call from God to be who God sees us as. Amazing, gifted people -- made in God's image and likeness.

It's time -- now to look in the mirror -- this lent tell me what do you see?

Graphic designed my MaryAnne Hanlon Newman.