By Amy Moehnke
Lent is the great reminder to not take ourselves too seriously. In part this is because Ash Wednesday, the “kick off event” of Lent, centers around the simple but profound reminder that “we are dust and to dust we shall return”. This is a simultaneously terrifying and wonderful truth that perhaps we don’t ponder enough. I remember imposing ashes on my daughter’s little forehead when she was 4 years old. It was the strangest thing to hear myself say to my own child, and yet there was a sense that it was the right thing to do- both to say it to her, and to hear myself say it to her. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. She looked at me with her bright blue eyes while I touched her with that dark ash, and even though she was young, I had the intense feeling that she somehow got it, perhaps at a level that we grownups, with our knowledge, and our rationalizations, and our sheer desire to deny the inevitable truth of death just can’t (or won’t). She accepted that what her mommy said to her in that moment was true, and she didn’t run from it. Perhaps it was because the voice that said the words was the voice that sang her to sleep at night; perhaps it was because the hands that touched her head were the ones that wiped her tears when she was sad; perhaps it was because the ash became the very familiar cross when it reached her little face… I suspect it was a combination of those things, plus the movement of the Holy Spirit in that church, that made that moment super holy. It was the perfect start to our Lenten journey that year. My hope for each of us this Lent is that the good news of our “dustiness” might become real in new ways as we make our way through this blessed season. Thanks be to God.