Remember That You Are Dust!

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It was Ash Wednesday.

A woman who was sitting in a crowded church leaned over to the young man next to her and asked: “What is it that brings so many people out on a cold night, to get a little dirt smeared on their foreheads, and to be reminded that they are sinners and that they are going to die?” He looked at her somewhat oddly and said, “It’s a habit, I guess.”

It must be more than a habit. Ash Wednesday strikes a responsive chord very deep in many people’s hearts. Its theme has a peculiar appeal. It is a time to reflect that we are sinners, that life is finite and that we are all going to wind up as ashes.

But it is something we need to consider and do on occasion. It is a time to confront the failings of ourselves and those around us. It is a time to lay it all on the table and to see who we are and what we are made of. The mood is penitence and reflection on the quality of our faith and our life.  

Sometime ago a man walked into the Sacramento Police Headquarters and confessed to a crime he had committed 15 years before. The police were dumbfounded. They had no record of the crime and certainly had no active investigation of it. In fact, the crime was so insignificant that they refused to go any further with it.

And yet, the man insisted that he be charged with the crime so that he could “do the time.” The reason for his confession? He said, “I just haven’t been able to get it off my mind. I need to find peace.”  Now here was a man willing to subject himself to punishment in order to restore his own peace of mind.

I find that a lot of people are carrying around a lot of baggage inside of them that has turned into deep-seated anger. Things in life have not gone the way they planned and they wind up blaming others, such as politicians. Worst of all, down deep, they blame themselves for the life they wish they had.

Ash Wednesday and Lent bring us down to the Bottom Line in each of our lives:  “Remember that you are dust and unto dust you will return.”  That’s as Bottom as the Line gets!

Our deepest parts and our deepest pain lie in a place that words and analysis cannot touch.

Spend some time today and this Lent getting into those deepest parts and YOUR deepest pain. Lent is the time to repent and to seek forgiveness from God, from others and especially forgiveness from YOURSELF. Lent ends with coming out of our anger-filled tombs with Jesus on Easter Sunday. Only a loving and a forgiving Jesus can show YOU an angry-free way to live. 


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