The altar had been stripped of all things shiny and polished, and rough gray muslin and burlap had taken their place. Instead of the bright lights of Sunday morning, homemade paper lanterns were strung up to warm the darkness of a late winter Chicago night. In the flickering shadows of candlelight, I made my way to the front of the small stained-glass-adorned sanctuary. I could smell the oil mixed with the ashes gathered from burning last year’s palm branches as my pastor pressed the gritty mixture into my forehead in the shape of a cross. “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” I am dust. I am made of earth. In that moment my earthiness, my fleshiness, my body itself became something holy.
—Anne Cummings, My Body Is Good: Giving Up Diet Culture and Embracing Body Positivity for Lent (Upper Room Books, 2022)
Does it bother you to think about being made of dust and returning to dust? Why or why not? Join the conversation.
You are dust, and to dust you shall return.
Prayer for the Week
God of new beginnings, help me to
acknowledge, perhaps for the first time,
the beliefs about my body that I have
held for so long. Guide me in sorting
which beliefs are helpful and which are
harmful. Lead me back to you and
to this body that you called good. Amen.
Submit your prayer to The Upper Room.
Join us on March 18, 2023, for an online Academy Day Apart retreat, where we will focus on the spiritual practices of silence and contemplation as we journey intentionally through this Lenten season. We will be guided by Gabby Cudjoe-Wilkes and Andrew Wilkes, authors of Psalms for Black Lives. In our time together during this retreat, Gabby and Andrew will help us engage the Psalms to create a laboratory of justice imagination. Learn more and register here.
(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)
Looking for lectionary-based resources? Learn more about The Upper Room Disciplines.