Ordinary Wednesday: Everlasting Dust

While I try to go through each day with my eyes open to the little signs of glory and truth that lie around me in the everyday, some days nothing much catches my eye or sinks in. Today was one of those days, my attention too divided for anything in particular to arrest me. So I found myself tonight looking back over photos from the long weekend just passed to see if anything could be a worthy subject for a reflection. This one caught my eye, an image of tall native grass that grows in the wetlands by the Werribee River just a few kilometres downstream from my house.

It reminded me of the many places in scripture when humanity is compared to grass: beautiful in its day but impermanent. Trying to locate one of these verses I found myself turning to Psalm 103, which contains these words:

The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more. (v.15-16

Taken by themselves these words could sound heartless, devaluing of human life. But in the psalm itself they are wedged between declarations of God’s fatherly and everlasting love:

As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust. (v13-14)

And then:

But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him. (v.17)

We might fade from the Earth’s memory as quickly as grass, but not from God’s. He holds us in His covenant of love from generation to generation, from everlasting to everlasting, even though we are dust.

The beauty God gives to temperary things is an instructive lesson in this. God values even the briefest flower, the shortest glance of a sunset. And, what’s more, He takes our momentary days and bestows eternal significance upon them.

It was fitting that, while my brain was drawn to verse 15, the verse of the day that appeared on Bible Gateway as I went in search of Psalm 103 was in fact verse 13: As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him…I may not have had eyes open much to see God in the small details of my day, but He had eyes open to see me, and He loves what He sees. May I see through the eyes of His love tomorrow.

The Consolations of Lent

Comfort sits, unexpected,
in our waiting with weakness.
No giant leaps needed, only
the baby steps of the heart
slowly learning contrition.

Begin with incapacity,
then the slow-dawning knowledge
that you are nothing but dust.
Dust transfigures at His breath.
Exhale in the sigh of your Lenten frailty.
Then inhale, inspire.

O brother in our humanity,
Elijah in the desert,
weeping Psalmist of the cross,
You comfort with the fast that says,
Take off your face. Take on mine.
Consolation begins where our pretence dies.

images
Marc Chagall, “Jeremiah”

 

Eikon

No mirror to reflect,
no voice, only      dust,
sculpted by hands,
                             crafted by plan.
No self-stirring spirit,
no knowledge,     no thrust,
only dust, fingerprinted,
moulded –   with tears
and with blood    and with sweat –
now we stand,
                    heart and body,
earthenware image,
dust reflecting
      in praise.

image

Diakonos

Gather dust.
Run, speedy feet,
                                    and kick up dust.
Kick up, gather: dust we are.
O dust, return.  Be turned.

Gather, sheep.
Be gathered, sheep;
                                    make ready feet.
Unglamorous and matted, poor:
gather all. All dusty sheep, return.

Gather us.
You gather dust,
                                    reviving us,
and send us out, in cloud of dust.
For dust we are;
           O dust, return,
in-gathered, glorious.

image

Lent: Enough 5

What warmth I hide in will soon grow cold.
All Peter’s false fires, Adam’s cloak of leaves,
will burn out, fade, and leave nakedness in ash.
Clothe me. My shame is always before me.
Nothing hides from Your sight
what should be white, yet’s stained like blood.
O God. I stand –
naked, dust.
You are enough. You are enough.

Lent: Man of Sorrows 4

Lay me down –

slow me down and lay me down

upon the Cross, in Jesus’ hands.

Slow my heart and silence all

the numb self-serving of my pleas;

stifle pride, unlock the clench

of fists deep in this fickle dust.

Lay me down, my soul;

lay down

my soul in Jesus’ hands. Their scars

have room enough for me.