From Dust You Came, and To Dust You Shall Return
arrogance and scandal is all too common and fear of death drives people to extremities, a service that seeks humility by reconciling us to our mortal fate might be something worth pausing over.If earlier ages when life was even harder than it is today sometimes wallowed in a spirituality of pain and denial, perhaps our age commits the opposite error. Ash Wednesday can summon us to a more balanced approach, reminding us that there is a time for everything, a time to mourn and a time to rejoice.In the end, though, Lent passes. Christianity is optimistic, holding that all the suffering of this world up to and including death itself, is the prelude to a richer, deeper life. A culture without faith is one that tries to deny and hide the reality of death; for Christians, acknowledging the reality of the dark and dismal side of life is possible precisely because we believe that sin and death don’t have the last word. Those smudges you see on some foreheads today aren’t really about doom and gloom; they are about a hope so bright and an optimism so astounding that even as we reflect on our sins and on the decay and the grave at the end of our earthly lives, we look forward to the prospect of everlasting life in the presence of inexhaustible love.