“For dust you are and to dust you will return”
Genesis 3:19 NIV
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. It calls us to recognize the brevity of life and to remember that just as we have been made of dust, we will one day return to it. It’s easy to go about our days thinking that we will live forever, but the reality is that our days are limited. Ash Wednesday functions to interrupt us from the rhythms of life, reminding us of our human frailties. It challenges us to consider how we are living, what we value, and the ways we use our time.
If we let it, Ash Wednesday can work like a reset button. It can reestablish our true orientation – life with Christ in the kingdom of God. We allow our perspective to be renewed. Because life is a vapor (James 4:14), we acknowledge that we don’t have time to waste, waiting for tomorrow.
Today, if only you would hear his voice,
“Do not harden your hearts...” (Psalm 95:7-8)
As you enter this season of Lent on this Ash Wednesday take some time to reconsider your life, your death, and the direction of your life.
Ash Wednesday, an echo of the Hebrew Testament’s ancient call to sackcloth and ashes, is a continuing cry across the centuries that life is transient, that change is urgent. We don’t have enough time to waste time on nothingness. We need to repent of our dillydallying on the road to God. We need to regret the time we’ve spent playing with dangerous distractions and empty diversion along the way... We need to get back in touch with our souls.
Joan Chittister, The Liturgical Year, p. 118