“Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19)
I received a beautiful gift one winter morning on the way to mass. We had had a hard frost the night before, so I had to warm up the car and scrape the frost off the windows before driving the 20 miles to church. When you live in the north you take these things in stride, knowing that God’s beautiful springtime is never far away. And sometimes, God compensates in surprising ways.
The sun was rising behind me as I headed down the highway to mass. As it rose, the trillion tiny flakes of snow and frost that caressed the ground, the trees, and every blade of tall grass in the ditch, caught that sunshine and reflected it back to me in an ever-changing, glittering dance of light. The beauty of it pierced me. Taking Mary’s example, I pondered it in my heart.
Did you know that snowflakes start as dust particles high in the atmosphere? As they blow about, they begin to collect crystals of super-cooled water that build in an intricate matrix and form a flake that gets heavier and heavier. When the conditions are right, these flakes fall to the ground in a beautiful flurry of snow. But they begin as dust.
Remember that you are dust… These words were spoken to Adam just after he and Eve had committed the first sin. They were the last words God spoke to Adam and Eve just before he banished them from the Garden. God used those words to curse Adam and Eve and all their descendants. As descendants of Adam and Eve, we are born with that curse.
But Jesus came so that we could be restored to our intended glory. By baptism we are reborn. We start out as specks of dust on the breath of God. The waters of baptism transform us, begin to form us into the beautiful multi-faceted creatures we were meant to be from all eternity. Every prayer and penance, every trial and sacrifice builds us up, until we no longer resemble the speck of dust we once were. When the time is right we are entrusted with the mission of reflecting the light of Christ in the world. We fall to the earth and are sent forth to become an ever-changing, glittering dance of light.
So, let us remember that we are dust, but let us also remember that God is calling us to be so much more. Let us give God free reign in transforming us through the prayer and penance to which he calls us so that we may reflect more brilliantly the light of Christ in the world.
Did you know that the light reflected off a little snowflake may be seen over half a mile away? Ponder that miracle, my friends.