Lent is the 40 day period (minus Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Hold on to that fact while we talk about dust for just a moment.
60% of the dust in your home comes from outside. The remaining 40% is a bunch of stuff including food debris, animal dander, and, rather disturbingly, human skin. Dust collects on bookshelves, hides under couches and fridges, and hangs in the air wherever sunbeams gather.
Ever since I came across this statistic, I’ve looked at dust differently — especially the 40% skin part. The lamp next to me has a bit of dust on the shade. “Who is that?” I wonder.
A week ago, I didn’t notice dust. Now I see it everywhere. It’s funny how we can become blind to the stuff that’s right in front of us. A statistic gets our attention and we suddenly see what’s been there. Maybe for a long time.
It’s easy for our faith to get dusty. By design, the season of Lent gets our attention. It’s no coincidence that Lent sounds like Lint. Lint is just concentrated dust, be it in your dryer or your belly button.
In actuality, it’s called “Lent” because it’s when winter slowly turns to spring. The temps go up, the snow melts, the leaves we didn’t rake last Fall make us look bad. The sad and dark days of winter get longer — a lengthening of days — the flowers make their way back, signifying rebirth. The lawn transitions from brown to green. The trees leaf it up.
On this day, we put ashes on our foreheads to remember that we are dust, and to dust we shall return.
Dust in my house — 40% of it, especially — reminds me that I am mortal.
If not for Jesus, that would be it. Done. Game over.
The Holy Spirit has animated our dust and brought us into eternal life with Jesus Christ. While we will still return to dust, we shall, ultimately, be with Him. New dust. Animated dust.
Forgive us for assuming that our dust will stay active forever. Remind us of our need for you. Show us where we’re off. Bring us back to repentance and renewal. Reanimate us.
But still, can you believe it? 40%!