“Ash on an old man’s sleeve / Is all the ash the burnt roses leave, / Dust in the air suspended / Marks the place where a story ended.” T.S. Eliot
Dust we are and to dust we shall return…Genesis 3:19.
Ash reminds us of endings but in the case of Lent it also reminds us of new beginnings. Change and decay may be around us but God is the God of second and third and fourth chances. Ash Wednesday calls to every human to be aware of the shortness and uncertainty of life but also of its expanse and beauty. I came across a quote in the recent biography on Steve Jobs’ life. He is quoted saying, “When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
Today if ashes are imposed on your forehead you may think of the shortness of life – the fragility of your existence. Don’t be alarmed. Be active in living the life God gave you; not the life that others demand from you or expect from you. Do the meaningful things that are whispered to you by the spirit voice which calls from deep within your being and says, “This is what I want you to do for the good of others and for your own good.” We have a purpose shaped in the form of a cross. This is a season of both limits and limitlessness. God has all the time in the world – all the universe for that matter. Use God’s time and not just yours. See yourself in the flow of God’s far reaching love and leave a trail of eternal dust behind as you walk that path cut just for you.