“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
This year, the juxaposition of Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day is not lost on me. I am slowly working my way out of the thirties. In fact, later this year, I will turn the big 40! And in living into that reality, I am reminded of my own humanity; my own mortality. Ever since I can remember, I have yearned to be a wife and a mom. It is something that is the deep cry of my heart. And there are days–more days than I care to admit–that I feel like I sound like a broken record.
Ash Wednesday has always been one of my favorite holy days in the church. It is a beautiful reminder that, in the words of Gungor music, “God makes beautiful things out of dust; out of us.” Yet I am conflicted this year. I love Lent and the reminder of what Christ did for all of us. However, having both Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday on the same day cause me to pause and ponder even more.
I have always strongly disliked Valentine’s Day because it reminds me that the cries and desires of my heart have not been answered yet. I pray for the barriers to be broken down and for God to answer these very desires. Yet Valentine’s Day is my Single Awareness Day. It is a reminder that I go home every night to an empty house and sit alone at my table.
The reality is that I don’t want to dwell in the fact that God hasn’t answered the desires of my heart. Yet it is so easy to dwell in this very place. This very place that calls me to trust in my own humanity; my own mortality.
In the words of 1 Corinthians chapter 13 from the Message translation, we read: “Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end (1 Corinthians 13: 4-5).”
As I read these words, it seems quite appropriate that Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day this year. It is a reminder that the ultimate love comes in the one who died on a cross for our sins. It is a reminder that this kind of love NEVER gives up. It is this kind of love that calls each and every one of us by name and calls us beloved.
Yes, there will be days–when it is hard to trust in that promise. In fact, most days the devil sneaks in and I find myself wondering why these desires of my heart haven’t been met for me. However, this is a part of life. It is grief and grief is weird. Grief calls us to mourn what was and what has not been fulfilled. It is this grief that reminds me of my own humanity; a woman who was called in the waters of Baptism and will continually be named and claimed by God.
In a few weeks, with the ashes wet upon my forehead, these words “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return” spoken over me, I will remember that I am a beautiful blessed child of God who is loved for who God created her to be; beautiful dust called to scatter love to and fro with all of God’s beloved children!