By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, February 11, 2016

I still have a bit of ash under my nail and the sight of last night in my mind. Seeing our chapel filled with the cross-marked foreheads of mature adults who have lived many seasons sitting alongside wiggly kids who have many seasons yet to live, breaks my heart wide open every year and fills it to the brim. Jan Richardson's "Blessing the Dust" captures our experiences in this season. Enjoy.

Blessing the Dust

All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners
or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—

did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?

This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.

This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.
This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.

So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made
and the stars that blaze
in our bones
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace