Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday: Dust

Ecclesiastes is one of my favorites books of the Bible, which isn't saying a whole lot, actually, since I have a whole lot of favorites. I Kings is also among the favorites. But still, Ecclesiastes is way up there and doesn't get near enough play, imo.

Or credit. Because it's Ecclesiastes that gives us "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

Here's Ecclesiastes 3:18-22
I said in my heart with regard to human beings that God is testing them to show that they are but animals. For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the human spirit goes upwards and the spirit of animals goes downwards to the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot; who can bring them to see what will be after them?

If you ever want Biblical support for the notion that animals go to heaven when they die, here you go. Very aptly, the writer says, "Who knows?" And wisely reminds us that we are animals too. It's not just that humans are dust, but all living things are dust and all turn to dust again. An excellent reminder not to get too high and mighty about being human.

So often I think Lent is about trying to rise above our animal nature, fasting and self-denial and all that. I wonder if it might be a good idea for me to spend Lent remembering that I am an animal, that I need things like sleep and water and food and light and air in proper amounts. Not too much, but not too little either. I'll have to think about this some more; I haven't really thought this through yet.

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