Ponderings of the General Presbyter of the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley
Sue Westfall
February 27, 2023
Lenten greetings, friends,
Over the years, I’ve had a love/hate with the season of Lent which, this year, began last Wednesday with a smudge of ash on our foreheads. Traditionally a season of repentance and self-denial (which I can easily get into – I kind of like sack cloth and ashes and God knows I have plenty to confess) more and more I’m feeling drawn less to attention on myself and my own agency, and more to God’s relentless love for God’s beautiful and fantastical creation of which I am a part. To that end I’ve been drawn to the poem by Jan Richardson, Blessing the Dust, because it speaks of our humble acceptance of our fragility and mortality and surrender it to God. We are dust and to dust we return. Richardson reminds us of what God can do with dust.
All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners
or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—
did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?
This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.
This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.
This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.
So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made
and the stars that blaze
in our bones
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.
—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons
I love the idea that God is at work in the dust of our lives to give us life abundant! So I am thinking this Lent, what would it be like to give up being anything less than the most audaciously magnificent versions of ourselves which God in Christ is bringing about.
As ever in prayer,

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