After a few big posts, I’ve only got a handful of words on my mind today that I want to share with you. But the few words are really good.
Wednesday night, I drove to downtown Kansas City and attended the Episcopal cathedral’s Ash Wednesday service. I didn’t take anyone with me. No one but my wife knew where I was. I haven’t attended this church regularly in a decade and a half. It was kind of like a secret “Me and God” activity, like a father and son day where no one else is allowed to come along, except I didn’t bring my baseball glove.
I think pastors need those “secret” activities once in a while. Something where they aren’t the leader, and no one knows them, and they don’t have the ritual memorized so maybe they fumble a bit with the bulletin like a church noob.
Anyway, I don’t know if every pastor and priest says the same thing when they smear the ashes on peoples’ faces. The priest on Wednesday night said to me, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Bam. Do you ever get one of those moments where some words just punch you in the face, but you somehow feel better after getting punched in the face? This was one of those moments.
Because some days, I feel pretty great about myself. And other days, I feel depressed. And very little of what controls my mood are things that actually matter. My mood is often dependant on very unimportant, trivial things. Sometimes I’m envious of other people. Sometimes I wonder why someone else should have what I want.
But other people who I’m envious of are just dust too. Why should I care about what that dust over there is doing? Why does that dust’s success somehow mean that I am a failure? Why should I be straining for things that are out of my reach and being unhappy, when one day, I’ll return to dust anyway?
It’s kind of funny how such a humbling statement could make me feel so much better about my life. Reminding someone they are dust should be kind of discouraging. Confronting mortality should be depressing. But it was freeing. Not in a way where I’m going to sit on my couch and smoke pot for the rest of my life because I have no ambition. It just put things in perspective again. I am dust, and I don’t have to try to be anything else, because in the end, I will return to dust.
Okay tell us what has punched you in the face (in a good way) lately. Someone’s message or story or song or anything else that made the world seem better.