It occurred to me while getting a cross of ash smeared over my brow, hearing the words, “from dust you came, and to dust you will return,” that one of the things I appreciate the most about the faith I’m finding myself leaning into more and more is that we are a people not only allowed to tell the whole truth, not only even encouraged to do so, but ultimately demanded to do so.
We must tell the truth: the good, the heartbreaking, and the completely unexplainable.
And so we operate in a season of lament and reflection. We begin it by marking ourselves with the dust we come from and the dust to which we will return. We take time to fast from things to remind us of our desperation and dependence on the king of the coming kingdom for anything to be worth telling in the end.
And even when shiny churches and slick preachers grin and tell us how to be happy, we must tell the truth that the world goes not well. Injustice abounds and work toward justice often feels like tiny drops in an enormous ocean. Hearts ache with broken families and open wounds. Loss stings years later like the day death stole life from our fingertips.
And so we tell the truth. All of it.
The hope of the kingdom coming is only truly hopeful if it is the refrain after the we see the deep gray all around us, and admit that we are both broken by it and perpetrators of it.
Until all is made new.
And so, for lent, we remember that from dust we came, and to dust we will return.