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Perspective: Ash and dust

Katie Andraski

Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, is the day Christians hear their ministers say, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return” as they dip their fingers in ashes and smear a cross on the foreheads of the faithful. I look across the fields, at the dirt churned up by farmers, to open it for rain and snow to seep deep, to water the roots of the plants to come.

Light is opening the womb of the sky. Our days are getting longer, but before the full arrival of spring, before crocuses and tulips push out of the ground, Christians around the world are called to mourn. We are called to remember the root of human is humus.

We walk toward the death of Jesus, the human God, who took on the original curse spoken to Adam, to dust you shall return. I mourn the children killed at NIU sixteen years ago.

“I do not hope to turn, I do not hope.” I repeat lines from T.S. Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday.” But the widening light insists I turn, insists I open my eyes to the steadiness of the sun rising, the sun setting. Somehow those colors caught on clouds seem a vision as glorious as the saints so caught in ecstasy, they glowed in the dark.

I turn toward love, not just the roses and kisses of Valentine’s day, but I also turn toward the kind of love that helps my neighbor when it’s not exactly what I want to do.

I’m Katie Andraski and that’s my perspective.

Katie Andraski is an author, blogger, and retired composition teacher at Northern Illinois University. You can read more of her writing on Substack at Katie's Ground.