Ashes and Dust


By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, four out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Genesis 3: 19
The fire of time burns in each of us, slowly consuming our days and our years
In the springtime of our youth we seemed immortal, we didn’t feel the touch of the flames
Nothing could touch us, we burned brightly while our wood was green
Our branches were too tall to be licked by the toungues of flames that licked the ground around us
We were warmed by the risks and the dangers that we believed would never shorten our days
And yet each of us leave a trail of ash on the pathways we walk.
But in the summer of our adulthood, when the air was hotter and drier we begin to feel the touch.
Our joints begin to dry out, the vigor of youth wanes, and the rainment of youth begins to dry
The pain of loss begins to touch our lives and we begin to wonder whether we will endure
For the fire of time burns hotter as the days get longer
As the seeds we planted begin to grow and we marvel at the vigor of youth
We also begin to see the trail of ashes that we left behind
And we pray that the ashes and the dust fertilize the ground for the journeyers behind us
Rather than poisoning the wells from which they and we shall drink
In the fall of our lives, the third age, when leaves begin to fall to join the dust of the ground
We are no longer young, not yet old, and yet we have seen those whose roots caught
Those whose the fires of time consumed far too young, and we know we are but ashes and dust
We pray for those who make the journey behind us, and rejoice in the seeds we have sown
We look back at the trail of dust mingled with ash and we wonder what could have been,
What should have been, what still might be, how long the ash and the dust will continue to blend
We wonder what we might do in the autumn days of life as the fires of time continue to dry us for winter
As winter comes, the green has gone and our wood has dried
We are not creatures of iron or bronze that can be melted down and recast into youth,
No, we are dust and to dust we shall return.
Some burn brightly and shortly, other molder on throughout the winter
But the fires consume us all, and the energy of our lives returns to the earth we were taken from.
We are dust and ash, mingled together on our journey through the seasons and ages
We begin and we end, we are all born and we all die, we are mortal as much as we flee our weakness
Yet, dust and ash though we are, we are precious and valued
We desire to live and breathe, to make a difference, to share our journeys and stories
We love, laugh, cry, desire, struggle, we are always life and death mixed together
And yet even though we end, we make a place for others to begin
And life continues, sustained by the hands that formed us from the future and past
The ashes of history that become the dust, the earth of the future
Marked by ashes, we continue our journey to the dust
Trusting the potter who breathes breath into dust and ash
Treasuring dust and ash beyond gold and diamonds
Though diamonds are forever, dust and ash live and die,
Yet dust and ash live, precious under the mark of the cross.

Composed: Neil White, 2013

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