When Grace Stirs Up the Dust

On Ash Wednesday, they got my order wrong at Starbucks.

I had taken my cup back to my seat before I realized it, and hesitated, pausing there in my black dress which I thought I would wear, being appropriate to the day. I didn’t yet have the kiss of ash on my forehead, but had found a service to attend that evening. And I have been considering what to give up for the forty forthcoming days.

But sitting in the corner of the coffee shop, it suddenly seemed absurd to me that dust should deserve a vanilla rooibos tea latte.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return…

These bones are on borrowed time. I may decorate them to show my youth, but this frame is mortal. I remember when my muscles tie themselves into knots around my spine, when news of a celebrity death starts trending on Twitter, when I flinch in fear at sudden swerves in traffic.

We tend to remember the Fall in the garden as an event, a swift plummet, but ever since we fall in slow motion. Especially when we are young and in good health, we rarely realize gravity’s slow and silent pull toward the end.

Which makes me wonder, why give gifts to dying children? 

It almost seems unfathomable. I woke up cozy that morning in my house that I own with my husband whom I love. I drove to Starbucks in my Jetta, propped my new boots up on a comfy armchair to sit back and enjoy a customized beverage, wholly superfluous to my nutritional diet and needs.

Impossible, that I should be entitled to any of this. My life is overrun with privileges.

Ashes remind me that I don’t deserve it; that it is a gift. But on the other side of these ashes, the God I love stands to resurrect, to bring to life, to make things new.

I held my steaming cup in hand, and knew that I am blessed.

How does Lent shape your perspective? Are you doing anything this year to observe it such as fasting, new disciplines, reflection, etc.? I’d love to know!

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  • http://www.ramblingbarba.com Ken Hagerman

    Good words. You said ”
    Especially when we are young and in good health, we rarely realize gravity’s slow and silent pull toward the end.” So true. This last year I was introduced to mortality in an intimate way. I had surprise open-heart surgery, 2  months later my wife was hit directly in the thigh by a truck while on the back of a motorcycle, and 2 months ago a 20 yo friend died in Afghanistan. I didn’t notice the slow fall. It was only after it was dramatically sped up that I took notice. Thanks be to God for the gift of noticing.

    • http://www.stephindialogue.com Stephanie S. Smith

      Ken, thanks so much for sharing. That’s all incredible and I hope I can be as aware as your prayer in the last line which I love, “Thanks be to God for the gift of noticing.” I’m sure you can attest how much that has changed how you live.

  • http://www.seeprestonblog.com Preston Yancey

    Goodness, Stephanie, you can weave the most simply beautiful words. I carry them.

    • http://www.stephindialogue.com Stephanie S. Smith

      Thanks Preston :)

  • http://twitter.com/everydayawe Stephanie Spencer

    Yes, Stephanie, we are blessed. We often take it for granted. You set up a beautiful picture

    I decided to give up sweets for Lent. I used to do this growing up, but it was for so many wrong reasons, that I stopped for years. This year, I decided to do it again.

    I don’t relate to the idea of giving something up to connect with Christ in His sacrifice, because my measly restrictions don’t seem to compare. What I do relate to is the general concept of fasting. I want to break the hold that something of this world has on me. I want to remember that God provides all my needs.

    I’ve realized how often I turn to sweets: for comfort, for joy, for entertainment.  I’m excited to use every time I  normally turn to sweets as an opportunity to turn to God.

    • http://www.stephindialogue.com Stephanie S. Smith

      Stephanie, that’s awesome! I love your description of fasting. I’m doing the same on the opposite end of the spectrum and fasting from any kind of processed salts for Lent, because where many people has sweet tooths, I crave salt when I’m hungry. And I don’t need to fill myself this way with salty snacks, fried foods, etc. I would also like to teach my body and soul to crave God instead. 

  • loreferguson

    Beautifully written. Thanks to @everydayliturgy for pointing us over here! 

    • http://www.stephindialogue.com Stephanie S. Smith

      Lori, thanks for dropping by! Love the look of your blog too.

      • http://sayable.net/ Lore Ferguson

        Thanks! It’s always a work in progress =)

  • Kelli J Rogers

    I am praying for 30 mins in the morning and than exercising for 30 mins in the morning. I choose these because the 30 mins in the morning will strengthen my relationship with my father, and the exercise is a sacrafice of time and a chore of something i need to do but don’t.

    • http://www.stephindialogue.com Stephanie S. Smith

      I like that because it cultivates both body and soul, which reminds me of the verse in Romans to offer our bodies as “living sacrifices” Good idea!

  • http://shiningfromshookfoil.wordpress.com/ Guest

    This is lovely, Steph! Thanks for your comments on this. I hope this is a meaningful Lent for you and for all of us as we consider that Jesus took up our dust Himself in order to restore us to eternal life. 

  • Brittany Brasher

    I LOVE vanilla rooibos tea!!! I’m often convicted of the same thing. I don’t deserve anything I have. Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father!

    • shequotes

      Mmmm yes, while not usually a tea person, it has become one of my favorites :D That’s a good verse t oremember too

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