"And the LORD God formed the human one out of the dust of the ground and breathed into its nostrils the breath of life, and the human one became a living soul. Gen. 2:7"
Listen: Gungor, Beautiful Things, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Is6weMrenls
"Remember, you are dust, and to dust you shall return." With these words we are marked with ash and begin our Lenten journey. Ashes are a sign of our mortality as well as a sign of repentance. We are called to spend the next six weeks in prayer and reflection, good works, and alms-giving so that we can stand with Jesus on Good Friday, as Jesus stands with us every day of our lives.
Ashes are also a reminder of the earth from which we came. The words for ground ("red clay"), human being ("man," literally "red one,") and blood are all related in Hebrew. It is as if the "red stuff" inside is a liquid form of the earth, from which God fashioned us. We are Spirit-breathed lumps of clay, dirt of the earth, shaped by God's very hands.
However, dirt has a bad rap. We say things like, "poor as dirt," "dull as dirt," "cheap as dirt." Anyone with a "dirty mind" or telling "dirty jokes" is someone talking and thinking inappropriately and should have their mouth washed out with soap. "Down and dirty" means unvarnished and done hastily. A "dirty dog" is a sneaky person. To give "a dirty look" is to look at someone in an angry way. To "play dirty" is to cheat. To "get your hands dirty" means you get involved in all aspects of a project -- especially the unpleasant aspects. "Dirty laundry" is all our unpleasant secrets. No one likes to be treated "like dirt." This is not the dirt from which God created us!
Yet it is said that each shovel of dirt contains more life than all the human beings ever born. The dirt under our feet is teeming with unseen life, and nurtures the plants, feeds the animals that sustain us and make our world beautiful. There is an unseen universe in every handful of dirt we scoop up. The same is true with each of us. We are teeming with untapped potential.
Lent is a time to rediscover this potential and reclaim who we are. We are dirt. In the human sense, yes, we have "dirtied" our soul and need to be cleansed by repentance. However we are dirt as God fashioned us. Our psyches have layers, like dirt. There is hidden life,an amazing universe within our souls. There are fruits of the spirit -- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23) ready to grow if we but tend the dirt/soil of our soul.
Instead of thinking of the Lenten season as a time of "giving up," think of Lent is more like planting and tending a garden, getting reacquainted with soil after the long frost of winter. So prepare the soil/dirt. Weed out the growth that is unproductive. Plant. Plant what your life needs at this time. Patience? Acceptance? Generosity? Faith? Right priorities?
This Lent, reconnect with the dirt-stuff of your life. That primal material of our being that is teaming with life that needs to be acknowledged and claimed. Remember who you are. God's own. Made from dust, and to dust we shall return. From dust/dirt/soil, we bring forth beautiful things, to the glory of God.
Today think of yourself as dirt, connected to all the dirt of the earth.
How will you prepare, during Lent, your soil/dirt for future growth?
Pray: "Lord, Divine Gardener, this Lent show me how to reconnect to the soil of my soul, the dirt and earth. Help me plant the seeds of habits that will make me a loving, generous servant of Jesus."