“From Dust to Dust”

Ash Wednesday

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return!”

I’ve said those words countless times as I placed ashes and the sign of the cross on the forehead of worshipers. And, I’ve had them spoken to me at the beginning of Lent for decades.

But this year the words have a particular poignancy. Linda, with whom my life has been deeply intertwined in a profound bond of love for six decades, has too quickly returned “to dust” from which she came.

Within the last five years, death has claimed my wife, my mother, sister, brother, brother-in-law,  uncle, aunt, several friends, colleagues, and neighbors.

On this Ash Wednesday, “To dust you shall return”  sounds and feels more like a personal medical prognosis than a routine religious ritual.

The circle is drawing closer. Life is narrowing. Energy is lessening. Capacities are diminishing. Frailty lies on the horizon. Time is running out.

I know this seems grim and foreboding. But, Ash Wednesday and Lent are about confronting the reality that we all live with the dust from which we came and the dust to which we return.

Life is always Frail! Fragile! Fleeting!

Yet, there is a strange freedom in acknowledging our own frailty and mortality. The idols of control, self aggrandizement, and invincibility are stripped away.

What’s left amid the ashes of crumbling idols is Grace! Gift! God!

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” are words spoken in community as we are marked with the sign of Cross.

The One who breathes into the dust from which we came redeems the dust to which we return.

So, we are not alone on our journey from dust. . . to dust!

And, we journey toward a new heaven and new earth where “Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more . . .” (Revelation 21:4).







8 thoughts on ““From Dust to Dust”

  1. Thank you, Bishop Carder. Even though this Lent comes to you with an elevated installment of grief, your post is a contemporary testimony to Wesley’s statement, “Methodists die well,” and to his own dying words, “The best of all is, God is with us.”

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Dear Bishop Carder, Thank you for your post. Yes, time is short. There is a sense of urgency in my days as I follow Christ. I want to be productive but not harried; I want to hold forth peace to others without idleness; I long to make a difference for good in my friends’ lives without being prideful, arrogant or boastful. All of these longings sit before my Master this Lent. My prayer is for his guidance and for the light I need to live today to his glory. Blessings of health and wellness and long life on this side—we need you here for now. Joy


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Father Carder
    May you find peace, strength and fortitude in the knowledge that HE knows best. I have been confronting some of my own regrets in life and can relate to what you said; feel the pain and detect moist eyes. I am not a christian so i dont know if its ok to hug a bishop. But if it is, then warm hugs to you.
    From one sad heart to another……….

    Liked by 1 person

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