Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. The phrase is familiar, but as I heard it said over me tonight at the Ash Wednesday service, it hit me how ordinary and vulnerable we are. I don't want to think of myself as dust and ashes, things we don't find particularly appealing or likable. But like the palm branches that are burned to make the ashes for our foreheads, we go from life to death, and then are either buried or cremated, becoming dust or ashes ourselves.
We are fragile and finite, although we expend much effort and money to be strong and immortal. Ash Wednesday calls us to remember that for all our wishing for invincibility and beauty, we are merely a dirty smudge, weak and fallen, totally dependent on the One who became flesh, who became as we are, so we might become as he is. My broken and sinful self needs this Savior, for I am but dust and ashes.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.