By Lydia Mulkey
February 21, 2023

“Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.”

As I hear these words now I see my vacuum cleaner in the corner absolutely full of dust. A small percentage of which is probably bits of me! Dead skin and hair and what not.

According to national geographic, “Dust can be made up of pollen, bacteria, smoke, ash, salt crystals from the ocean, and small bits of dirt or rock, including sand. Dust can also contain tiny fragments of human and animal skin cells, pollution, and hair.”

All dust used to be something else. Nothing lasts forever in its current form (except love, I would say, but that’s another evotional). What once was a star now exists within you and me. One day when we are gone, the materials that constitute us will transform.

Our Buddhist siblings hold impermanence up as one of the three marks of existence and from the few classes I took from Buddhists in seminary, I understand it to be of utmost importance in Buddhist teaching. Without understanding impermanence, we cling too tightly, and our inevitable losses cause us great suffering.

Christians do not talk a great deal about impermanence, except perhaps on Ash Wednesday. It is our opportunity to take a page from our Buddhist siblings’ book and remember that change is a fact of existence. We were once dust and we will be again. Whatever we are experiencing today will not last forever, whether it is joy or pain. All things are in a constant state of change. The message of Ash Wednesday sounds grim to some, but look at the freedom it can bring us. It can remind us to be present in this moment, not grasping or clinging to it, but recognizing that the past is gone, the future is yet to be, and this is the only opportunity we will ever get to live this moment. Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.

Join us for our family friendly Ash Wednesday service tomorrow night at 6:30pm in the sanctuary so that we can acknowledge the gift of impermanence together.