Rev's Revelations

My elementary school art teacher was a jokester. One rainy afternoon, when we were all squirrelly because we couldn’t have outside recess, he started class by saying, “Hey, do you wanna hear a dirty joke?” Of course, a bunch of 10-year-olds said, “Yes!” He said, “A kid fell in the mud! Do you want to hear a clean joke?” I’m sure we rolled our eyes as he said, “He took a bath!”


The season of Lent is dirty. It begins with actual ashes--dust or dirt--smudged on our faces. It ends with the more metaphorically dirty stories of betrayal, denial, and death. The forty days of the season are marked with signs of penitence--fasting, almsgiving, and self-restraint. These are the most somber days in our church year. As this Lent comes in the midst of a pandemic--which began during Lent of last year--it can seem like life is overwhelmed by dirt.


And yet, we were reminded on Ash Wednesday this year: God breathes life into dirt! In Genesis 2:7, “Then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.”


This year we will focus on that good news: God breathes life into lifeless dust! I will not encourage you to give up something--you’ve given up a lot lately. I will not ask you to take on a new habit or spiritual practice--unless you have a lot of extra time. Instead, I ask you to focus on life. Pause and breathe. Feel the breath of life fill you--in the same way God’s breath filled the dust and created humankind. Pause and look or listen to those around you. Marvel that, somehow, God created the same life in them. And if you feel overwhelmed--by dirt, by life, by pandemic, by loneliness--imagine the words of poet Jan Richardson,


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?


Peace,

Rev KJC

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