I am dust; to dust I shall always return.
But don’t assume as you disturb my rest
with your omnipotent kitchen broom that
I am mere debris to be swept up and away.
Remember. We are interfused, you
and I, suspended in each other,
vestigial particles of endless galaxies,
diminishing and becoming, deposited
but for a moment amid yesterday’s dinner
crumbs and dog hair. Tomorrow?
I am cyclonic, demanding skeletal trees
to dance with me through dry valleys;
But I am also the cadence of the soil,
eternity dug up in a spade
and sown with ordinary mystery.
Still, don’t assume I am magic either,
or that you are, except when in a distant
sun-soaked garden we tango with the departing
light and time’s muted colors bend onto our
backs and we carry life across ancient seas
to fertilize the future. Remember. You are
dust; to dust you shall forever return.
I remember reading about dust in the news several years ago. Popular Science reported that dust from Asia might be fertilizing sequoias in California (http://www.popsci.com/asian-dust-california-sequoias). In stark contrast, too many people in our world experience the horrific dust of bombs flattening houses in their communities. Also, dust storms in some geographies can uproot trees, stop traffic, and interfere with visibility.
Taken together during the Christian “dust and ashes” season of Lent, these descriptions of dust remind me of how complex and ordinary, fragile and resilient, sometimes life giving and sometimes life-destroying dust-birthed humanity is. I am also reminded that we are connected across complex geographies to each other and to creation.
We are dust; to dust we shall return. In between? God calls us to carry in our bones the light of Gospel justice and hope.