Remember, man, you are dust

and to dust you will return.


I grew up in a low-church protestant tradition, so Lent was never on the radar screen. In my twenties, I attended a Southern Baptist church in Chelsea, MA. On the way to church, I would pass a very large Catholic church. I wondered at the purple cloth draped around the outdoor cross which became white on Easter. When I understood, I loved the symbolism.

Around this same time, I got ashes on my forehead on Ash Wednesday at St. Anthony’s in downtown Boston, again, because I loved the symbolism. At the time, I didn’t know the ashes came from the previous year’s Holy Week palms. I remember that first time at St. A’s. I sat in the pews for a few minutes to watch so I knew what to do. There’s nothing to it.

This morning I received my ashes and heard those words from Genesis: Remember, man, you are dust…


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