What Happens When Death is Blessed?

As another season of Lent is upon us, it is the time of year when we confront the scariest aspect of our lives: that they’ll end. Sometime in the [hopefully distant] future, we’ll die.  And so today we remember that promise.

But as we do so, we remember that God creates out of dust. Martin Luther has been quoted as saying that “God created the world out of nothing, so as long as we are nothing, he can make something out of us.” We can get into my question of whether God did create the world out of nothing later on, but I think a more appropriate interpretation for today may read something like this.

God created you out of dust. So as long as you are dust, God can make something out of you too.

In the spirit of God creating blessing out of dust — or when applied in broader strokes, life out of death — here is a poem of blessing that Megan showed me this morning. So with that, I’ll leave with this blessing.

Blessing the Dust
A Blessing for Ash Wednesday
By Jan Richardson

All those days
you felt like dust,
like dirt,
as if all you had to do
was turn your face
toward the wind
and be scattered
to the four corners

or swept away
by the smallest breath
as insubstantial—

Did you not know
what the Holy One
can do with dust?

This is the day
we freely say
we are scorched.

This is the hour
we are marked
by what has made it
through the burning.

This is the moment
we ask for the blessing
that lives within
the ancient ashes,
that makes its home
inside the soil of
this sacred earth.

So let us be marked
not for sorrow.
And let us be marked
not for shame.
Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are

but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made,
and the stars that blaze
in our bones,
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.

So what happens when death is blessed?

It turns to life.

Blessings on your Lenten journey.


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