Memento Mori

“Remember that you are only dust, and to dust you shall return.”

It all seems so medieval. Ash, reminders of mortality, vestments. I hadn’t planned to attend an Ash Wednesday service, but when our dinner guest invited us to accompany her, I eagerly accepted the offer. I don’t want to invade some congregation’s service on my own, but visiting with a friend seemed ok.

The Lutheran church presented itself with lovely architecture and craftsmanship. I don’t think I can quite forgive the Puritans for smashing all the aesthetic sense out of the English church. So I soak it all in when I can. Dark wood beams crisscross a sharply peaked white ceiling. I really wanted to snap an Instagram so I could show you….but he church was dead silent when we walked in. Lent isnt a time for levity….or photography.

I don’t really see myself as a liturgical church person (though the AMIA service I attended this summer was incredible; I’d gladly do that weekly). I appreciate liturgical structure, though. I like the orderliness of the church year, the feeling of “belonging” that comes when you realize fellow believers have been recognizing these same seasons of worship for centuries now.

It’s a different world, one that offers smells and sights to supplement the words. Liturgy leads children and the illiterate and the busy American to see truth they’d otherwise miss. “Remember you are but dust, and to dust you shall return.” The minister’s thumb was warm as he marked the cross in palm ash on my forehead.

What will matter to me at the end of all my days? What foolish goals do I chase now in lieu of eternal gains? I’m in my 30s. I don’t make a habit of remembering I’m gonna die.

Death comes for us all.
Repent and believe.

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