Today, as we start the season of Lent, we will be marked by ashes and told, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.” The time of Lent is season of reflection on our own experiences with dust and ashes. We can find new meaning in it again and again. Sometimes we get stuck in life, in our job, in our relationships with family or friends or in our spiritual life. We keep on digging in the dust. When have you found yourself stuck, digging and then find yourself in a big hole. When have we been consumed by anger, regret and grief? When have you desperately tried to fix a situation through your own effort? How many times were we the cause of division and grieve of others? All of that is a part of the dust. It bears no life in it.
Slowly, I began to realize that my frantic activity, desperation and frustration were getting me nowhere. At one point it will dawn on us that we need to increase our prayer life and seek union with God. We need to forgive and let go of all the anger and anxiety. When we pray intimately we are able to experience peace and tranquility. It is then that we realize that we should have get rid of the baggage way before. Sometimes when we are struggling in the dust, God gives us what we need right in that place. As we look back, we can see that God meets us where we are and changes right there. God in Jesus has entered into all the dust, the dirt, the struggle and sorrow of our lives and meets us there. Jesus meets us in the dust and reminds us who we are. He reminds us that we are but dust and that we are dependent on God. Without we are nothing.
If we trust in ourselves we are left to our own strength we will fail at one point. We will find ourselves stuck in sin and shame. All human efforts and activity will lead us deeper into the dust. We are dust…. But God makes beautiful things out of dust. Let’s not forget that he created us out of the dust. In the beginning, God formed us all from dust of the earth and breathed into us the breath of life. And God keeps on breathing his life in us. Each moment, life is given to us from a Divine origin, we don’t have to do anything for it. And at the final breath, God takes us up in his eternity. God makes beautiful things out of dust. He breathes his Holy Spirit in it and makes it to come alive. The word for spirit in Greek and Hebrew is the same as the word for breath. God’s spirit is as close as our breath. We have it available every moment of our life. We only have to accept that free gift from God.
We have the intention to refuse the breath of Gods spirit and instead breathing in toxic air full of anger, gossip, anxiety, despair, judgement, aggression, division, pride and shame. We get filled up with things that leave us depleted and makes us long for fresh air. No matter how toxic the air is that we breathe, God always seeks to cleanse us from all of that. He breathes into us the Holy Spirit, as an individual but also as a community. The Season of Lent allows us to intentionally seek that cleansing and renewal. We can do that through practices of confession (repentance), fasting, prayer and almsgiving. The Lenten practices are meant to step away from our self focused attitude and open us up for the life-giving Spirit of God. They’re intended to draw us more fully into God. We are called to loose the bonds of injustice and setting the oppressed free.
In Lent, God works on our renewal in the Spirit. We are set free from focusing on our self, so that we might serve others. In Lent, God works to make us who are just dust a blessing to the world. Remember that you are dust but also that God makes beautiful things out of dust. Let’s us pray that we make room for God in the Season of Lent so he can breathe in us his spirit so we will be a blessing to the world. Amen.