You have been told you are nothing, maybe, by those who should have loved you and protected you. You have been laid low by their words, maybe even their fists or feet, lying like the dust beaten out of a rug.
You have been left to settle on whatever surfaces were nearby, neglect piling bit by bit into a fine dust that covered you as thoroughly as the night until you felt unseen.
You have been wounded deeply, maybe repeatedly, until you have come to assume that you somehow deserve this, that the universe is grinding you down finer and finer until you disappear completely.
You do not need this Wednesday of ash, for you remember your mortality daily, and the dust and sackcloth are the only choices in your closet.
So let us step away from tradition for this day, and say that it was into dust that God breathed the very first life into a human. It was with dirt, no, mud, that God fashioned the first co-creator, making this dirt person in God’s own image.
From the beginning God chose to dwell with the dust, to make Their prized creations from what others would eventually call unclean. God sent a piece of Spirit whirling into lungs that had only moments earlier been mud, and called it very good.
It is no different for you, beloved dusty one. Where you are certain there is only mud, God inspires new possibilities. The Creator breathes Their own breath where the air has lain still for too long, in tombs where all bodies were presumed on their way back to dust.
There is no dust which cannot be made glorious by the One who loves you beyond sense. Even now, there is One who looks at your ashen face and sees only possibility.
May you be reminded by this day that those most acquainted with dust and ashes have always been God’s preferred. Your dust is a miracle just waiting to happen.