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When Grace Stirs Up the Dust

Originally published Friday, 02 March 2012.


On Ash Wednesday, they got my order wrong at Starbucks.

I had taken my cup back to my seat before I realized it, and hesitated, pausing there in my black dress which I thought I would wear, being appropriate to the day. I didn’t yet have the kiss of ash on my forehead, but had found a service to attend that evening. And I have been considering what to give up for the forty forthcoming days.

But sitting in the corner of the coffee shop, it suddenly seemed absurd to me that dust should deserve a vanilla rooibos tea latte.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return…

These bones are on borrowed time. I may decorate them to show my youth, but this frame is mortal. I remember when my muscles tie themselves into knots around my spine, when news of a celebrity death starts trending on Twitter, when I flinch in fear at sudden swerves in traffic.

We tend to remember the Fall in the garden as an event, a swift plummet, but ever since we fall in slow motion. Especially when we are young and in good health, we rarely realize gravity’s slow and silent pull toward the end.

Which makes me wonder, why give gifts to dying children? 

It almost seems unfathomable. I woke up cozy that morning in my house that I own with my husband whom I love. I drove to Starbucks in my Jetta, propped my new boots up on a comfy armchair to sit back and enjoy a customized beverage, wholly superfluous to my nutritional diet and needs.

Impossible, that I should be entitled to any of this. My life is overrun with privileges.

Ashes remind me that I don’t deserve it; that it is a gift. But on the other side of these ashes, the God I love stands to resurrect, to bring to life, to make things new.

I held my steaming cup in hand, and knew that I am blessed.

How does Lent shape your perspective? Are you doing anything this year to observe it such as fasting, new disciplines, reflection, etc.? I’d love to know! 

P.S. Join me at the original post on my blog, at www.stephindialogue.com. Thanks for reading!