St. Olaf College | College Ministry

Remember That You Are Dust: Lent 1

In Genesis 2, God takes soil, shapes it into a person, breathes into it the breath of life, and what was dust a few moments before becomes a living, breathing human being.

God takes dust and breathes in new life.

During the Lenten season we are reminded that we are dust, and to dust we shall return. This is a sign of our mortality – that out of dust we became living beings, and when we die we will once again be returned to the earth.

Sometimes we may have the experience of feeling like that dust. It can feel like the breath has gone out of us – due to illness, or job pressure, or grief, or any number of things that can dry up our energy or our faith. Lent in a season of self-reflection and repentance, and that reflection can be about more than the ways we cause harm. When we take the time to examine our lives, we can discover the ways we feel drained or exhausted, the ways we feel poured out and long for restoration or refreshment. We can feel like we spend more time on the things that wear us out than the things that build us up. We feel dusty, and we long for God to once again breathe new life into us.

The spiritual disciplines of the Lenten season – prayer, fasting, giving – are not designed to leach you of your time and energy. They are meant to help you reorient your life around God, and God’s promises for you. They are meant to refresh you. They are meant to help you find your breath once again. And just as God could not help but create us, God cannot resist breathing new life into us, over and over again. God is present with us, with our dust, molding us as children of God.