By Greg Wilde, D.W.S.
“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” So goes the phrase I repeat many times over on Ash Wednesday as I impose ashes on the foreheads of parishioners and hospital patients. And it makes me think.
It is a very different kind of dust that you encounter when you are moving from one place to another, but the dust from which we are all created and the dust that settles on our belongings when we do not use them regularly share something in common—they both participate in something transient. Our lives are transient, we live in transient circumstances, and the dust we brush from items as we move them from one place to another simply reminds us that we dare not put down roots in one place for too long, or we may be unpleasantly surprised when we are swept away, instead of expecting it.
Change causes stress. But I have to say that, given the amount of change God has brought the Wildes through in recent months, our stress levels have been surprisingly low, because we not only expected it, but looked forward to it.
For three and a half years, we lived in southern Georgia, where life is old and seasoned, even when it is brand new. We were part of a wonderfully seasoned church, and had incredible opportunities to learn ministry and build relationships in ways that will serve us and the Church well for years to come. In that short time we lived in three different homes and experienced one devastating house fire. Dust burns well. You might say we were dust in the wind. But a few months ago the wind of the Holy Spirit blew us northward, and we are now settling in Wisconsin. The dust here is frozen.
We have recently purchased a home. It, too, is full of dust—but dust that must be removed to make room for the new dust to settle. The South and the North are different in many ways, but the wind of the Spirit blows through them both. Our job as dust is to make sure that we are anchored loosely enough that God can blow us where he will, and we will not resist.
Come visit, eh? We live in Oconomowoc, WI, and our church is St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal in Pewaukee, WI. Funny names, but dust cannot choose where it falls. If it tries to do so, then perhaps it has forgotten it is dust. Our job is to remember.